Forget mountain lions, bears or even great white sharks, says the World Health Organization, it’s actually the minuscule mosquito that presents a more urgent threat to humans. These tiny creatures’ ability to carry diseases and spread them to humans is unsurpassed with casualties that measure in the millions – annually!
But if you’re like most people, you probably don’t give much thought to mosquitoes – until you get a red, itchy welt on your skin. And in places like Saguache Today where local agencies spray as a deterrent to the pesky summer invaders, these insects aren’t as bothersome as they are in other parts of the San Luis Valley. Still with the official mosquito season actually extending well into autumn, especially if temperatures remain on the warm side, it’s a good time to check in with local health agencies regarding the current status.
So here’s the latest from Kay Crowder with the San Luis Valley Public Health Partnership. This quick read will remind you of preventative measures you can take when out in the thick of it and what symptoms to keep an eye out upon your return. Stay safe! Stay healthy!
West Nile Virus Awareness
West Nile Virus (WNV) has been identified in some mosquitoes tested by the Alamosa Mosquito Control District. Local Public Health officials would like to remind the public that the most effective way to avoid West Nile Virus is to prevent mosquito bites.
Use insect repellents when you go outdoors. When weather permits, wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks outside. Take extra care during peak mosquito biting hours at around dusk and dawn. Use screens to keep mosquitos out of your home, and remove standing water on your property. Livestock water tanks and ornamental ponds may be treated with Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti), a type of bacteria that kills mosquito larvae but is safe for animals. Birds may also carry WNV, transmitting it to mosquitoes, and on to humans. Do not handle dead birds with your bare hands.
One in five people infected with WNV may develop fever, headache, body aches, nausea, and vomiting. These flu-like symptoms usually appear within three to 14 days of being infected and often end after a few days to several weeks. Many more people are infected but do not develop symptoms.
Of those who develop symptoms, a small percentage will develop more severe symptoms, including high fever, headache, neck stiffness, confusion, convulsions, vision loss, paralysis, coma, and even death. Serious illness can occur in people of any age, but the elderly and those with weakened immune function are particularly at risk. Symptoms may last from several weeks to years, and effects may be permanent. If any of these symptoms occur, medical attention should be sought immediately.
For more information about West Nile Virus prevention and control, including the latest guidelines on insect repellents, you can go to www.cdc.gov/westnile, call your local public health agency, or call the Saguache County Public Health: 719-655-2533