Mosquitoes within the Animas Mosquito Control District territory are consistently testing positive for West Nile virus.
The control district has been sampling mosquitoes at 17 sites since June and samples have come back positive for West Nile weekly since the end of July, said Melody Schaaf, office manager and lab technician for the district. Positive samples have been found at seven traps in recent weeks across the control district’s territory, which stretches from Purgatory Resort south through Durango.
While the mosquito control district has seen fewer mosquitoes as fall approaches, the risk of disease is likely to persist, said Pat Kelley, district manager.
The district plans to continue trapping and testing mosquitoes through the end of September, even though San Juan Basin Public Health grant funding for testing ran out in August, he said.
Recent warm weather is not helping combat the mosquito problem, but it is not the only contributing factor, Kelley said.
As the population increases in the Animas Valley, it has created more sources of standing water, such as ponds, Kelly said.
To help address the risk of mosquito-borne illness, the district eliminates standing water where mosquitoes can breed. The district also sprays and fogs for insects. The district will work to mitigate mosquitoes through October.
But residents should also protect themselves by using insect repellent containing DEET, draining standing water around homes and wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants.
Residents should be especially cautious at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
Symptoms of West Nile virus include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. In rare instances, the virus can be fatal. Anyone with West Nile virus symptoms should see a health care provider.