Mosquito file photo

West Nile virus, a virus most commonly transmitted by mosquitoes, has been found during routine testing by the city of Laramie’s Mosquito Control department. Many who have the virus don’t realize they’re sick, but in rare instances it can prove fatal.

West Nile Virus was found in a mosquito sample in Laramie this week, the city announced in a news release Friday morning.

The sample was taken from traps within city limits monitored by city of Laramie Mosquito Control and will be sent to the Wyoming State Veterinary laboratory for confirmation.

Laramie is still considered at the lowest risk level, Level 1, for infections based on guidelines from the Center for Disease Control for a phased response to WNv surveillance data.

On Monday, the Wyoming Department of Health announced its first documented case of WNv in 2019, a person in Campbell County.

At this time, the city of Laramie’s news release said, no avian, equine or human cases have been reported in Albany County.

Tyler Shevling, Mosquito Control supervisor, told the Laramie Boomerang on Friday morning that while WNv has been found in the city in the past, it was not detected last year.

In order for the city to be elevated to a Level 2 infection risk, he said it would take “lots of vector mosquitoes being found in our surveillance traps.”

“We’re just not finding that,” he said. “There’s not a lot of vector mosquitoes out there, we just happened to have a pool of the ones we did find test positive.”

Shevling said the city lays out 23 traps covering locations both inside and just outside city limits every evening Sundays-Thursdays. Each morning Mondays-Fridays, the traps are collected. The mosquitoes in the traps are separated by species and location to focus on testing any Culex tarsalis mosquitoes, which are the vector for WNv. The Culex tarsalis are tested for WNv each week.

“We have a pretty in-depth surveillance program for monitoring for West Nile virus,” he said. “We have a really good idea of what’s going on with the mosquito population.”

West Nile virus often shows no symptoms in infected people, according to the CDC. About one in five people will show symptoms, including fever, body aches, vomiting or a rash. About one in 150 people who become infected will develop serious, sometimes fatal, illness.

Shevling said the elderly population in town tends to see the highest risk for a serious case of WNv.

Residents can protect themselves from mosquito bites by wearing insect repellent with DEET or other CDC-approved chemicals and wearing long sleeves and pants.

Shevling added residents should try to refresh standing water at least once a week — including bird baths, dog pools and horse and cattle troughs — which “helps reduce availability for egg laying and for the mosquitoes to be able to go through their (reproductive) cycle.”

There are a few different species of mosquitoes found in and around Laramie, including the Culex tarsalis mosquitoes that carry the virus. Shevling said it’s still a little early in the season to be seeing the vector species in the city, but other species are on their way.

“Our floodwater species are coming off the hay meadows right now and working their way towards town,” he said. “We’re expecting to see a lot more mosquitoes heading our way in the near future.”

The city plans to continue its regular mosquito fogging schedule, covering residential neighborhoods and recreation areas popular at dusk, including city parks, recreation areas, golf courses and the Laramie River Greenbelt Trail. However, with storms and rain predicted throughout next week, Shevling said it may be difficult to keep the routine schedule.

“We’re going to have to work around the weather, but we’re going to keep after it as best as we can as conditions allow,” he said.

The city added in its news release all “No Spray” zones will continue to be honored at this time.

For more information about West Nile Virus causes, prevention methods, symptoms and data, go to www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html.

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