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West Nile could still be threat

Don’t let your guard down. That’s the advice from Colorado Mosquito Control (CMC), which keeps mosquito numbers down in Garfield County during the warm weather months and has helped keep the numbers of human cases of West Nile virus low as well.Both county and municipal governments have funded a massive mosquito control effort since 2004 to put a curb on the spread of West Nile virus. In 2004, Colorado had the highest number of people with the disease in the nation, with 271 reported cases and three deaths. West Nile 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.”There’s a perception that it’s a wave, it moves through, hits you hard and moves on,” said Tony Stillwell, operations manager for CMC.But that’s not the case, as the apparent resurgence of West Nile virus in Illinois shows Last year Illinois recorded 252 cases of West Nile in humans, with 60 the previous year and 884 in 2002 when it first showed up in the state.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 2004, Mesa County had the highest incidence of the disease in the state, with more than 200 cases and three deaths.CMC crews are on the ground in Garfield County recently. Two weeks ago technicians examined Lions Park pond in Rifle and found mosquitoes hatching. Treatment has all but eliminated them, said Ellie Kershow, who heads up the CMC Glenwood Springs office.As it has for the last two years, CMC spreads an environmentally safe pesticide on mosquito breeding areas that targets only mosquito larvae.CMC is especially concerned with the culex mosquito which carries the virus. It has identified areas in the county that harbored culex over the last two years and will target them again this year, said CMC president Mike McGinnis.As runoff continues to mount in the central mountains, McGinnis worries that a rapid heavy runoff triggered by high sustained temperatures could cause flooding. Receding water would leave pockets of standing water that are the ideal breeding ground for culex.”Right now on the East Slope where there’s slow runoff, we’ve found a lot of culex right off the bat,” Stillwell said. “Usually (they don’t appear) until June.”Anyone with questions or concerns about mosquitoes can call Ellie Kershow at 970-930-0018, or CMC toll free, 1-877-276-4306.Fight the bite. Take these steps to defend yourself against mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus:• Drain standing water around your home weekly, including tires, puddles, flowerpots, rain gutters.• Mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus are most active at dusk and dawn. • Dress in long sleeves and long pants at dawn and dusk and use a DEET-based mosquito repellent.


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