It’s mosquito season and that means the West Nile virus is back

Unfortunately, with the onset of summer and somewhat wetter weather, mosquitoes have returned along the Front Range. And with mosquitoes there is a risk of the West Nile virus.

In northern Colorado, Weld County health officials test mosquitoes trapped in traps on a weekly basis. One of these traps contained mosquitoes that tested positive for the West Nile virus. Officials say the number of mosquitoes that transmit and can transmit the virus this year is more than three times the average of previous years.

The West Nile virus occurs annually in Colorado. Last year, according to the Colorado Centers for Disease Control, 35 cases were identified with one death.

The disease is spread through mosquito bites and, in rare cases, blood transfusions. Symptoms can appear three to 14 days after infection. Common symptoms are fever, headache, nausea, and muscle pain.

Health officials recommend wearing insect repellant outdoors, where mosquitoes are active, and dressing appropriately to prevent mosquito bites. They also recommend getting rid of stagnant water in and around homes known as breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

“What people may not know is that even if your lawn is overwatered, it can create conditions for mosquitoes to thrive,” said Eric Aakko, Weld County public health spokesman.

West Nile isn’t Colorado’s only outdoor risk. Mammals in the state, especially in the southern part, can transmit the plague to humans through bites. Health officials this week confirmed a recent death that may have been caused by the plague. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is working to review the diagnosis.

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