Although the recent rainfall was great for drought relief, it brought with it exceptional breeding ground for one of the area's peskiest insects - the mosquito.
Although the recent rainfall was great for drought relief, it brought with it exceptional breeding ground for one of the area’s peskiest insects - the mosquito.
If you’ve been outside at prime flying time - dusk or dawn - your hands have probably been busy swatting away the swarms of mosquitoes.
And when it’s mosquito season, the increase of possibility of mosquito-borne disease transmission increases.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment lists these viruses:
Western equine encephalitis (WEE) is distributed across the central and western United States.
St. Louis encephalitis (SLE) is found throughout the continental United States.
California encephalitis viruses are a group of several viruses found throughout the U.S.
West Nile (WN) virus historically occurred in parts of Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East. This virus was first detected in the United States in 1999 during an outbreak in New York City. Last year, the number of West Nile Virus cases in Colorado peaked in August, but cases were reported as early as May.
The CDPHE indicates viruses are transmitted to people and animals by bites from infected mosquitoes. Only certain species of mosquitoes carry the virus and very few mosquitoes actually are infected. In Colorado, these viruses are transmitted to people by a species called Culex tarsalis, a medium-sized mosquito that feeds in the few hours around dawn and dusk. During the day they rest in shady, secluded areas, such as under porches, roof overhangs, tall grass, shrubs, and storm sewers. They breed in almost any source of standing water, including irrigated fields, old tires, hoof prints, flowerpots, tree holes, or any puddle of water that lasts for more than a few days, according to the CDPHE.
What are the symptoms?
Most people who are infected with mosquito-borne viruses do not become ill and have no symptoms. For persons who do become ill, the time between the mosquito bite and the onset of symptoms, known as the incubation period, ranges from 5-15 days.
Two clinically different types of disease occur in humans: (1) viral fever syndrome, and (2) encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. Symptoms of the viral fever syndrome include fever, headache, and malaise. These symptoms persist for about 2-7 days.
In rare cases, the virus can cause a more serious brain infection such as aseptic meningitis or encephalitis. These infections begin with a sudden onset of high fever and a headache, and then may progress to stiff neck, disorientation, tremors, and coma. Severe infections can result in permanent brain damage or death. Most deaths occur in persons over 50 years of age.
There is no specific treatment for infection with these viruses except supportive care.