West Nile virus returns to Fort Collins

Rachel Musselmann

Break out the bug spray.

According to a press release from the City of Fort Collins, mosquitoes in the Fort Collins area have tested positive for the West Nile virus for the first time this season.

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Matt Parker, City of Fort Collins natural areas department resource management chief, said the appearance of the virus in this area is normal.

“We can pretty much count on seeing some form of West Nile from here on out,” Parker said. “Our desire is always to break the cycle.”

David Young, City of Fort Collins Public Relations coordinator, said the city partners with Colorado State University and a third-party mosquito control company to trap and test local insect populations for the virus.

So far, measured West Nile levels remain low, with only two confirmed human cases, Young said.

“Last week, the ratio (of infected mosquitoes) was at 0.03,” Young said. “The city doesn’t start spraying until about 0.75, though (Larimer) County has a lower threshold for action.”

West Nile prevention

According to Parker, the goal of the city is to prevent further infection.

“I want to make sure people are protecting themselves,” Parker said. “I’ve learned not to predict nature … but there have been more mosquitoes trapped this year than in previous years.”

The City of Fort Collins press release lists the following safety tips:

1. Drain
Mosquitoes breed in water. Drain any standing water in your yard each week. Bird baths, clogged gutters and kiddie pools are common breeding sites.

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2. Dress
Wear lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and long pants while outdoors. Spray clothing with insect repellent since mosquitoes may bite through clothing.

3. DEET
Apply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin. Use an approved repellent according to its label.

4. Dawn/dusk
Limit time spent outdoors at dawn through dusk, when mosquitoes are most active and feeding.

Further information on how to protect against West Nile can be found on the City of Fort Collins website. 

Collegian Senior Reporter Rachel Musselmann can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @rmusselmann