West Nile Mosquitoes are in Prowers County

First 2012 mosquito pool positive test for West Nile Confirmed for Prowers County  

Lamar, CO– Prowers County Public Health officials have received lab confirmation of West Nile in a sample pool of mosquitoes collected on the night of August 27th.  This positive result is from a number of surveillance locations in and around the city 

Sherry Sun, Summer Environmental Health Intern for Prowers County Public Health and Environment (PCPHE), confirms that PCPHE began surveillance of mosquitoes in early July, and that this positive result is the first in a mosquito pool in our surveillance area.  As of the week of August 20 the CDC has reported that the number of West Nile cases in the U.S. increased to 1221 with 43 deaths. This is the largest number of reported cases (through this time period) since the virus was first detected in the U.S. in 1999. There have been 38 states reporting human cases of West Nile Virus with an additional 9 states reporting the virus in birds or mosquitoes only.  In 2012 Prowers County has not had a confirmed human case of the disease to date but according to Keith Siemsen, Manager of Environmental Health for PCPHE, three of the four confirmed cases in Prowers County in 2010 occurred after September 1st.  (Note that one of those confirmed cases in 2010 resulted in a death).  Due to the severity of the current outbreak, and fact that recent data shows the number of cases increasing significantly across the U.S., PCPHE is urging citizens to increase their focus towards preventative measures in their daily activities.    

West Nile Virus is carried by certain birds and transmitted to people by bites from mosquitoes that have fed on infected birds. Female Culex mosquitoes, the species that carries the virus, usually start emerging in late April or early May.  

Siemsen adds, “Each season this virus will be present and circulating around the state. The severity of the season will depend on the weather. But the good news is that West Nile virus is preventable, and now is the time to take precautions against the disease.”

Additional precautions to take against West Nile virus include:

  • DRAIN standing water around the house weekly since it’s where mosquitoes lay eggs, including: tires, cans, flowerpots, clogged rain gutters, rain barrels, toys and puddles.
  • DUSK & DAWN are when mosquitoes that carry the virus are most active, so limit outdoor activities or take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.
  • DEET is an effective ingredient to look for in insect repellents. Always follow label instructions carefully.
  • DRESS in long sleeves and pants during dawn and dusk or in areas where mosquitoes are active.
  • For tanks and ponds use larvicides as directed, larvacides can be purchased at various retail centers in Prowers County 

West Nile Virus has an incubation period of 3 days to two weeks. It can result in fever, meningitis and encephalitis, and have the potential for causing long-term illness and disability. The virus can affect any age group; however the chance that any one person is going to become ill from a single mosquito bite remains low. The risk of severe illness and death is highest for people over 50 years old, although people of all ages can become ill. Symptoms may include fever, fatigue, headache, muscle weakness, rash, stiff neck or changed mental state. If you have any of these symptoms please see your health care provider.

Just one mosquito bite can transmit West Nile virus or other diseases. To prevent illness from WNV and other mosquito-borne diseases, remember prevention is the best method.  Fighting mosquito bites reduces the risk of getting this disease, along with others that mosquitoes can carry. 

Don’t let mosquitoes ruin your fall…. Keep insect repellent handy and get rid of mosquito breeding sites in the yard! 

For more information you can call Prowers County Public Health and Environment at 336-8721 or you can visit www.prowerscounty.net  or www.FightTheBiteColorado.com. CDC website www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile.



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