Mosquito numbers are up, but so far no West Nile virus in county |

Mosquito numbers are up, but so far no West Nile virus in county

With the advent of the dog days of summer, the dogs may be lazing but for mosquitoes, the livin’ is easy. While the insects are proliferating in ponds and boggy places, there have yet to be any confirmed cases of West Nile virus in Garfield County, said county weed manager Steve Anthony.But we’re just getting into the time of year when the virus has shown up in the past and the number of Culex mosquitoes, the species that carries the virus, start increasing.”Historically, it’s been about this time of year that it shows up, in late August,” Anthony said.Throughout the summer Colorado Mosquito Control (CMC) has placed larvacide in wet areas around the county to keep the mosquito numbers down. It has also continued to trap mosquitoes to determine where they are congregating. According to last week’s CMC trap report, the highest numbers came from traps at Mile Pond Road just east of Rifle (843 mosquitoes), Whiteriver Avenue, also in Rifle (594), and Cottonwood Park in Parachute (1,000).”Any time there are over 100 Culex that’s a red flag,” he said.Tuesday evening CMC fogged those three areas to control the insects, Anthony said. Mosquitoes get the virus from infected birds and pass on the disease to humans. The virus can lead to meningitis, an infection of the spinal fluid, or the sometimes-fatal encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.The virus has spread west year by year since it was first identified in this country in 1999. Once it has infected a resident population of Culex mosquitoes, it stays in that population forever. According to the state health department, in 2004, Colorado had the highest number of people with the disease in the nation, with 291 reported cases and four deaths. This contrasted sharply with the previous year when there were 2,947 confirmed human cases and 63 deaths in the state. In 2004, Mesa County had the highest incidence of the disease in the state, with more than 200 cases.In 2005, Colorado had 106 West Nile virus cases in humans, however, no one died from the disease. Garfield County had one case.Mesa County leads the state in human cases this year with 11. No one has died from West Nile virus in Colorado in 2006.Nationwide, Idaho has had the largest number of human cases of the virus with 112 and two fatalities. Texas has had the highest number of fatalities from the disease with five.Also in Colorado, 19 birds have tested positive for West Nile, including three in Mesa and one in Delta counties. Two horses have also tested positive for the disease, one of which was reported from Eagle County.Hot weather and rain are the ingredients for ideal mosquito breeding.”We had some rain last week and if it gets hotter after rain it creates new breeding areas,” Anthony said, “and encourages mosquito activity.”Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs will host a discussion about West Nile virus today from noon to 1 p.m. in the hospital conference room.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510dgray@postindependent.comFight the BiteThe Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recommends taking the following precautions against West Nile virus:• Avoid outdoor activities, such as gardening, at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.• If you’re outside at those times, cover up; wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, shoes and socks.• Use a mosquito repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.For more information about West Nile virus go to

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