West Nile Virus Found in Otero County, Prowers Residents Alerted

August 15, 2011-The Prowers County Department of Public Health and Environment advises all residents to take precautions against West Nile Virus. We had a very dry first half of the summer but with the more recent moisture it is likely that our area will see increased mosquito activity including those that can carry the virus.

Keith Siemsen, Manager for Environmental Health with the Prowers County Public Health and Environment Department stressed that the West Nile mosquito season isn’t winding down; it’s just beginning in the latter half of this summer. Siemsen pointed out that although there have been no positive cases of West Nile bearing mosquitoes so far this year in Prowers County, last year, three of the four reported cases occurred in the September-October time frame, including a fatality.

West Nile Virus bearing mosquitoes have been found in Otero County, according to information from the Otero County Health Department. Health Department Director, Rick Ritter stated that tests have been positive in both Otero and Crowley Counties recently. The mosquitoes were found in testing pools in the region.

Prowers County Health Department officials set out traps each year to collect samples of mosquitoes, mostly along the Arkansas River area, which is a natural breeding ground for the insects. The county and city have also continued a routine spraying system for Lamar and county communities, as well as applying larvicide chemicals to help prevent breeding in areas of standing water. Aerial spraying is limited to conditions when winds are relatively calm.

West Nile was first introduced in Prowers County in 2004 and human cases have occurred at various levels since then. In 2010 Prowers County had 4 cases and the first human death due to complications from West Nile Virus. Colorado had a total of 81 confirmed cases state wide and 4 deaths in 2010.

Keith Siemsen, Environmental Health Manager for Prowers County Public Health and Environment, stated, “Each season this virus will be present and circulating around the state. The severity of the season will depend on the weather.” Siemsen reports that testing of mosquito pools began in mid-June and will continue through the summer.


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