Mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus make early appearance in Fort Collins

English: The proboscis of an Aedes albopictus ...
English: The proboscis of an Aedes albopictus mosquito feeding on human blood. Under experimental conditions the Aedes albopictus mosquito, also known as the Asian Tiger Mosquito, has been found to be a vector of West Nile Virus. Aedes is a genus of the Culicine family of mosquitos. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The West Nile virus has been found in Culex mosquitoes captured in southeast Fort Collins near Fossil Creek Reservoir, according to officials at the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment.

“We collect mosquitoes from Fort Collins and Loveland. There are about 50 locations a week that we get pools of mosquitoes from. The one found that was positive was from fossil ridge,” said Scott Sieke, a junior biology major and student lab assistant at the Infectious Disease Annex in CSU’s Judson M. Harper Research Complex.
The Complex houses university research aimed at finding cures and preventative measures for diseases such as West Nile virus, tuberculosis, yellow fever, dengue, and hantavirus.

The Culex mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus were found on June 5, a month earlier than they usually are in the average year, suggesting that this summer could have an increased number of human West Nile virus infections.

“So far its shaping up to be worse than last year but its hard to be sure at this point,” Sieke said.

West Nile virus infection comes from being bitten by an infected mosquito, and avoiding bites is the best way to prevent infection.

The virus can occur in humans without symptoms or can cause illness ranging from mild to deadly. Those over 50 or with weak immune systems are at the highest risk to experience severe symptoms from West Nile virus.

The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment encourages residents of Larimer, Weld, and Delta counties to use mosquito repellent when outdoors between dusk and dawn when the Culex mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus are most active. Repellent with DEET, Picaridin, PMD or IR3535 are the most effective at keeping mosquitoes away.

Standing water should be drained from property to keep mosquitoes from breeding, and window screens should be kept in good repair to keep mosquitoes out of homes.

There is no vaccine or cure for West Nile virus in humans at this time. If West Nile virus occurs, the best treatment is to drink plenty of fluids, to rest, and to control pain with non-prescription pain relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen.

According to the the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment, symptoms of West Nile virus include severe headache, stiff neck, and a fever of over 103 degrees, and may include severe pain, confusion, delirium, tremors, convulsions, profound muscle weakness or paralysis, and vomiting.

Residents who have 2 or more days of vomiting or cannot keep fluids down are encouraged by the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment contact their health care provider.