About four years after the West Nile virus arrived in the U.S., the city of Longmont started trapping the flying insects, and it has done so every summer since.
Last year, 19 cases of the West Nile virus were confirmed in Boulder County, along with 26 cases in Weld County. Statewide, there were 175 confirmed cases of the virus.
On Sunday, Vector Disease Control International (VDCI), the mosquito control service company that handles trapping for the city, set up 12 traps in areas of the city known to be “hot zones” for the insects:
• Jim Hamm Nature Area.
• Garden Acres Park.
• The Shores-Concord Way.
• Sandstone Ranch.
• Union Reservoir.
• Great Western/Mill Village.
• St. Vrain Greenway at Emery Street.
• Left Hand Creek at Creekside.
• Renaissance/Meadow View.
• Stoney Ridge/Alpine Elementary.
• Izaak Walton Park.
• Rough and Ready South.
“With some of the moisture that we’ve had and those (high) temperatures, it just creates an environment where those mosquitoes flourish,” said Dan Wolford, Longmont Natural Resources land program manager. “A lot of it is dependent on the weather. How cool things are, how wet things are — those are key factors.”
In Colorado, mosquitoes typically thrive during the hotter summer months, settling down in September and practically becoming non-existent by October.
Over the course of the next 13 weeks, crews will set the traps each Sunday and check them each Monday. Wolford said employees with VDCI individually count the mosquitoes in each trap and separate them based on their species. They target Culex mosquitoes, which can carry the West Nile virus.
The city will not fog or spray until a mosquito tests positive for the virus in Boulder, Larimer or Weld counties.
Once the virus shows up in mosquitoes, the city will spray in a hot-zone area when more than 150 mosquitoes turn up in a trap between Sunday evening and Monday morning.
“We will spray individual neighborhoods based on (trap counts),” Wolford said.
Although hundreds of mosquitoes have already been trapped, none have tested positive for the virus.
In the event that spraying must occur, the city will notify residents on Tuesday in order to provide at least 48 hours’ notice. Spraying typically occurs on Thursday evenings.
Using larvicide, VDCI targets mosquitoes before they hatch in an effort to minimize the use of adulticide. Wolford said the city is mindful of gardens, bee stands and the like.
Wolford reminded residents to practice the “four D’s” of prevention: defending against bites with insect repellent; dressing in long sleeves; avoiding the outdoors as much as possible from dusk to dawn; and draining standing water where mosquitoes breed.
“It’s definitely a tradeoff and a balancing act,” Wolford said, citing how some residents demand the city spray while others plead with it not to. “Mosquito control, like many of our wildlife issues, it’s rare that we find ourselves in a win-win situation with the public.”
Approximately 80% of people who become infected with the virus do not exhibit any symptoms at all, according to the World Health Organization. Those who do, however, may develop a fever and experience headaches, nausea, vomiting and, in some instances, skin rash.
Boulder Daily Camera
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