West Nile reappears in Pitco
July 12, 2005
A dead magpie found in downtown Aspen has tested positive for West Nile virus.The bird was found by a resident early last week. It was sent to the Colorado Department of Health for tests, which confirmed Tuesday that it is the upper valley’s first documented case of West Nile this year. “While we’re taking this case seriously, there is no cause for alarm by the general public,” said C.J. Oliver, city of Aspen environmental health specialist. Oliver said West Nile virus is spread to humans by mosquitoes, not birds. Very few mosquitoes have been caught in the traps set around Aspen so far this summer, and none of the mosquitoes found were of the variety that transmit the virus. The city has been trapping mosquitoes on the North Star Nature Preserve, at the end of Hopkins Street below the pedestrian bridge and near the Aspen Highlands base area. A trap will also be set at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies.Pitkin County health officials are urging people to remain vigilant about avoiding mosquito bites. Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk and it is recommended that people use repellent with DEET or wear clothing that covers arms and legs.The county’s mosquito traps are located on the Aspen Music Festival and School Campus, in Woody Creek, Emma and in the Crystal River Valley.So far there have been six human cases of West Nile virus reported from five Colorado counties: La Plata on the Western Slope, and Larimer, Otero, Pueblo and Weld counties on the Eastern Slope. No deaths have been reported so far this year, and overall across the state relatively few mosquitoes and dead birds have tested positive for the virus. Nationally, 24 states have reported West Nile virus activity. In addition to Colorado, human cases have been reported in Arizona, California, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, South Dakota and Texas. For more information on West Nile virus call 1-877-462-2911.