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Get the facts about West Nile Virus

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The spouse of a military member living in the Buckley housing area presented with symptoms consistent with West Nile Virus earlier this week according to medical personnel at the base.

Laboratory test results, however, have not confirmed West Nile Virus.

Buckley public health personnel have continually trapped mosquitoes throughout the summer months and have been testing them for the virus at the Air Force Institute for Operational Health entomology lab in Texas. To date, the base hasn't been able to get enough mosquitoes to get positive results for the virus.

"We have been out every day since April," stated Maj. Jason Deese, officer in charge of the 460th Medical Groups Public Health Flight. "The mosquito counts on base have been low. We have also been working with local public health officials off base and they are also getting low data."

Even though public health personnel have found the mosquito population on base at insignificant levels, the base Pest Management Office has a prevention program in place.

According to Patrick Fowler, Deputy Chief for Civil Engineer Operations, a treatment program is in place on Buckley for areas of standing water and at Lake Williams.

"The Pest Management Office treats the lake and standing water areas with larviciding briquettes," he said. "These briquettes, which are dropped into the water, kill larvae for up to 90 days and then they need to be reapplied."

These briquettes are the preferred method of dealing with mosquito larvae because they do not harm fish or wildlife.

Using the larvicide only helps to eliminate mosquito larvae and has no effect on adult mosquitoes.

"We do have a means of spraying adult mosquitoes with insecticide and a sprayer," said Mr. Fowler. "We spray insecticide only when directed by the public health office."

West Nile virus is a disease that can be transmitted not only by mosquitoes but by infected birds as well.

Although no human cases have been reported in the immediate area around Buckley, the Tri-County Health Department has confirmed that a bird has tested positive for West Nile Virus in Douglas County.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, July and August pose the highest risk of infection. Warm summer temperatures produce the perfect breeding conditions for mosquitoes that might transmit West Nile Virus.

Statistics from CDPHE reflect that there have been 29 reported cases of West Nile Virus in Colorado. The six most recent cases are one case each in Adams, Boulder and Larimer Counties and three cases in Weld County.

It is very rare to catch West Nile and most people infected will not get sick or will have only mild symptoms. These include fever, headache, body aches, and occasionally skin rashes and swollen lymph nodes. However, in rare cases, West Nile Virus can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the brain's lining). Symptoms generally appear three to fourteen days after exposure; people over the age of 50 are more vulnerable to the severe forms of West Nile.

People can eliminate mosquito breeding areas near their homes and workplaces. It also proves the need to use insect repellent for protection against mosquito bites while outdoors, whether in the backwoods or in the back yard.

The recommended mosquito precautions include the five Ds:
· Drain: Drain all standing water around the home to eliminate mosquito-breeding sites
· Dress: Dress in long-sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes and socks
· Dusk/Dawn: Limit outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active
· DEET: Use mosquito repellents that contain DEET
For more information on West Nile Virus, visit www.FightTheBiteColorado.com or contact the state health department's InfoLine at 1-877-462-2911 or 303-692-2000.

Click here to view a flyer about the West Nile Virus.
Click here to read a story from Air Force Space Command about West Nile Virus.
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