West Nile virus found in Mesa County

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MESA COUNTY, Colo. The Grand River Mosquito Control District works hard to keep mosquitoes with West Nile virus out of the Valley air.

"Just the act of separating out the mosquitoes that do carry West Nile virus can take some time we have a couple of people here in that lab that are dedicated to that," Zane McCallister, Grand River Mosquito Control District.

Officials set up about 80 traps per week from Palisade to Loma. They then bring the traps filled with the insects to their lab and identify them by species. There are about 13 species common in the Valley but one that raises a red flag is the Culex genus which carries the disease.

"We take the mosquitoes that are of the Culex genus and we take those to the Health Department for testing," McCallister.

After testing two pools last week one came back positive. The Mesa County Health Department is now trying to bring awareness to the issue.

Officials at the Health Department suggest using bug repellent, dressing in long sleeves and pants if you're camping or doing yard work, staying inside during dawn and dusk and draining standing water because it's a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

One in five people who contract the disease will develop symptoms including, fever, headache, body ache and fatigue.

"There's no treatment for West Nile virus you just have to let the illness run its course but if you're feeling really really sick call your doctor," Veronica Daehn Harvey, Mesa County Health Department.

If untreated it can lead to more serious complications such as meningitis, encephalitis and even death. People with medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension and kidney disease are at greater risk for serious illness.

In 2013 the Mesa County Health Department reported 11 residents were diagnosed with West Nile virus.

One person actually died from it, which is all the more reason to protect yourself.

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