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Mosquitoes on the rise in county

As spring has moved into summer, the numbers of mosquitoes are growing in some areas, as is the potential for West Nile virus.Colorado Mosquito Control (CMC), which provides surveillance and treatment in Garfield County, is reporting lots of mosquitoes at two trapping sites in Rifle: Whiteriver Avenue and Lyons Park. However, the majority of insects found at those potential breeding sites are not the kind that tend to pass on the virus to humans.A total of 4,000 mosquitoes were trapped the second week of June at Lyons Park at the Interstate 70 rest area. Of those, the vast majority, 93 percent, were the aedes species, which, although they carry the virus, don’t usually pass it on to humans, said Tony Stilwell, CMC operations manager. A total of 1,500 mosquitoes were trapped at Mile Pond Road just east of Rifle, again with 97 percent the aedes type.”Throughout Colorado it’s been fairly dry but we are seeing the numbers of culex (mosquitoes) we normally see in July,” he said.Stilwell said samples of mosquito larva, which will grow into adults if not treated with larvicide, show an increase in the number of culex, which are considered the primary species for passing on the virus to humans.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.Many people have the misconception that West Nile flares up in an area then moves on. But that’s not the case, as the apparent resurgence of West Nile virus in Illinois shows. Last year Illinois recorded 252 human cases, with 60 the previous year and 884 in 2002 when it first showed up in the state, Stilwell said.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, 2003, 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’s mosquito control program helped keep the numbers of cases down to five in 2004 and only one case last year, with no fatalities reported, according the Colorado Department of Health and Environment. In April this year, a 59-year-old man from Weld County was diagnosed with West Nile virus. He also developed encephalitis. Recently, a bird tested positive for the virus in Mesa County.Because of the rise in potential culex populations, it’s important to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.People should drain any standing water on their property, said CMC Glenwood Springs office manager Ellie Kershoe. “It’s really important people take responsibility and make sure mosquitoes are not breeding in their backyards,” she said.Fight 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 http://www.FightTheBiteColorado.com.


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