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West Nile virus found in Jefferson County

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By Sandy Barnes

Jefferson County Public Health has received positive test results for West Nile virus from several mosquito pools in areas of the county, including the City of Golden. There are no reports of any human cases at this time.  

Mountain areas of Jefferson County, including Evergreen, are not tested for West Nile virus because the climate is too cool for the species of mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus to flourish, said Kodi Bryant, Jeffco health information specialist. 

However, it is possible for virus-laden mosquitoes to exist at elevations as high as 10,000 feet, and people should take precautions against them, said Jeffco Health spokeswoman Nancy Braden. 

Of the approximately 40 types of mosquitoes that exist in Colorado, three of them carry West Nile virus, Braden said. 

The Jeffco Health Department hires a contractor to monitor the presence of mosquitoes in areas of the county where they are prevalent. However, since 2011, the county has not treated infested areas with larvicide because of budget cuts, Braden said.

Municipalities and private owners in Jefferson County are responsible for treating standing water ponds and other places where disease-carrying mosquitoes are found, she said.

Golden is using larvicide on its standing water ponds, including those around the intersection of South Golden and Johnson roads where the virus was found.

The Jeffco Health Department offers the following advice to ward off mosquito bites:

* Use DEET or another insect repellant when outdoors.

* Drain all standing water around your home, and replace water in kiddie pools and bird feeders every five days.

* Wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants while outdoors.

* Limit outdoor activity at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are prevalent.

Mosquito season in Colorado starts in the spring and ends in mid-September. During mosquito season, it is not uncommon for public health officials to find mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile virus. 

“It has been present in the state of Colorado since 2002,” said Braden.

For more informationm visit www.fightthebitecolorado.com.

 

Contact Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com.