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More mosquitoes carrying West Nile

Samantha PalGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Colorado Mosquito Control trapped a mosquito that tested positive for West Nile virus near Cottonwood Park in Parachute last week, according to Steve Anthony, vegetation manager for Garfield County.In a press statement, Colorado Public Health officials warn that mosquito populations are on the rise in Garfield County, especially in and around Rifle and Parachute.Colorado Mosquito Control gauged the population of mosquitoes in the area by using traps. Out of 438 mosquitoes trapped in Parachute, 86 percent (375 mosquitoes) were Culex tarsalis, the main carrier of the virus, Anthony said.”The general rule of thumb is that when you see 100 (Culex tarsalis mosquitoes) you start to get worried, and they had 375,” said Anthony.There were also 215 Culex tarsalis mosquitoes counted just east of Rifle on County Road 210, Anthony said.Even though only one mosquito tested positive for West Nile, Anthony said the danger is still high. This year’s numbers are shaping up to be similar to those from 2003, probably Colorado’s worst year for West Nile. That year Colorado reported 2,794 cases of West Nile resulting in 63 deaths.Although there are fewer mosquitoes this year than in the summer of 2003, more mosquitoes are infected with the virus this year, Public Health officials said. Anthony said that the virus has been migrating west since the ’90s, when people were first infected in New York City.”It subsided a bit, but now we’re seeing the numbers creep up,” Anthony said.Mosquito breeding areas are being aggressively monitored and treated by countywide mosquito control efforts. Organic larvacide is being sprayed in parts of the county for the second time this summer, Anthony said.Since the virus is spread when a mosquito bites an infected bird, residents are encouraged to report dead birds to a toll-free help line at (877) 462-2911.The chances of a person becoming severely ill from a single mosquito bite are small, but the danger is still there and taking precautions is necessary, Anthony said. “Part of our defense against mosquitoes is what Mosquito Control does, but the other is personal protection,” Anthony said.Citizens are advised to avoid mosquitoes by staying indoors at dawn and dusk when bugs are most active, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants while outdoors and apply insect repellent that contains DEET. Remove standing water from yards, change water in birdbaths and pet bowls frequently and use “dunks” – which contain natural bacteria that kill mosquito larvae, are harmless to other animals and can be purchased at home and garden stores – in small ponds.Citizens should contact Colorado Mosquito Control Inc. to report mosquito concerns at 927-6535. For more information about West Nile virus visit http://www.fightthebitecolorado.com.Contact Samantha Pal: 384-9105; spal@postindependent.com


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