Mosquitoes are still a threat |

Mosquitoes are still a threat

With August half-finished and school about to start, thoughts of West Nile virus may be off our radar screens. But according to Garfield County Public Health Nurse Mary Meisner, this is just the time we should keep our guard up.”This is the time when we see the highest count of culex mosquitoes” which carry the virus, she said.Colorado Mosquito Control, which was hired to keep track of mosquitoes in the county and treat them with larvacide and occasionally spraying, has reported elevated levels of culex in its traps during the first week of August.In Battlement Mesa, Parachute and Carbondale, more than half the mosquitoes trapped were culex. Overall, 42 percent of the mosquitoes trapped in the county were culex, CMC reported.While no cases of West Nile virus have been reported in Garfield County, Mesa County has had three cases, Meisner said, where culex mosquitoes are also on the rise.Colorado has had a total of 21 cases of the disease this year, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Web site.West Nile virus in humans can lead to meningitis, an infection of the spinal fluid, or the sometimes-fatal encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.In 2004, Colorado had the highest number of people with the disease in the nation, with 271 reported cases and three deaths. Garfield County’s mosquito control program helped keep the numbers of cases down to four last year, while neighboring Mesa County had the highest in the state, with more than 200 cases and three deaths. No one died in Garfield County.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.Mosquitoes are infected after they bite birds that carry the disease.It’s important to take precautions to reduce the likelihood of exposure to West Nile virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend repellents containing 10 percent to 30 percent DEET and products containing Picaridin and oil of lemon or eucalyptus.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext.

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