Traps test positive for West Nile in Larimer County

By Amber McIver-Traywick

The Surveyor

The first positive West Nile virus mosquitoes have been found in Larimer County this year. Positive mosquitoes were found in northeast and southeast Fort Collins and Loveland. No human cases have been reported in Colorado so far this year. The most recent data samples from three mosquito traps in Berthoud monitored by Vector Disease Control International (VDCI) for Larimer County showed no West Nile Virus (WNV) positive mosquitos in the area at this point. 

Traps near Berthoud Park and Loveland reservoir contained the highest numbers of Culex mosquitos which carry WNV and Aedes mosquitoes which can also carry other parasites and diseases. Although up until this week no samples tested positive for West Nile due to the abundance of mosquitos this year county officials encourage residents to always take precautions to prevent mosquito bites and mitigate standing water where the insects lay their eggs.

WNV is now considered a permanent presence in Colorado with infections anticipated by officials each year.

There are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV in people.

Last year there were two deaths and 100 people reported as being infected with the virus in Colorado. So far this year Boulder County has the only reported WNV case.

Most individuals who are infected with the virus have no symptoms or mild flu-like symptoms including fever, body aches, headache and swollen lymph nodes. The CDC reports about one in 150 people who are infected will develop debilitating symptoms that can last for years or even turn deadly. Severe symptoms and signs may include stiff neck, sleepiness, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions and paralysis.

The worst year in Colorado for WNV to date was in 2003 when thousands of people contracted the virus and 63 individuals died.

To protect yourself from mosquito bites and the potential for contracting multiple diseases while outdoors the CDC recommends when you are choosing a repellent to use one that has been proven to be effective against West Nile Virus-carrying mosquitoes. Repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (also called p-menthane-3 ,8-diol or PMD) and IR3535 are good choices.

Apply repellent only to exposed skin, never under clothing.

Do not use repellent with 30% or higher concentration of DEET on children.

Do not use repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus on children under three as it has not          been significantly tested on children of that age.

Do not use any repellent on infants younger than two months.

Never use repellent over cuts or irritated skin.

Do not spray in an enclosed area.

When you come back inside, wash the repellent off thoroughly.

Always read the label to determine if it is safe for children.

Do not use a repellent that is combined with sunscreen into one product. However, using separate repellent and separate sunscreen products at the same time is an acceptable practice.

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