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Mosquitoes Test Positive for West Nile Virus in Fort Collins (July 17, 2018)

Mosquitoes in Fort Collins have tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV) for the first time this season. While the risk of contracting WNV remains low, mosquito traps in Fort Collins, Berthoud, and Weld County captured Culex mosquitoes infected with the disease.

The vector index, or measure of infected mosquitoes, is 0.004 citywide. Before the City will consider adulticiding, the vector index must be 0.75 in any of the four zones. Larimer County has a lower threshold for action and may initiate an application earlier per the Director of the Health and Environment Department's recommendation.

WNV is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. The symptoms range from none to very serious. With the presence of the disease in this area, residents are encouraged to protect themselves using the Four Ds: Drain, Dress, Defend, Dusk/Dawn.
1. Drain. Mosquitoes breed in water. Drain any standing water in your yard each week. Bird baths, clogged gutters, and kiddie pools are common breeding sites.
2. Dress. Wear lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and long pants while outdoors.
3. Defend. Apply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin. Consider spraying clothing with insect repellent since mosquitoes may bite through fabric. Use an approved repellent according to its label. For information on repellents, visit the EPA website.
4. Dawn/Dusk. Limit time spent outdoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active and feeding.

While there is no guarantee that you will not get WNV, using the Four Ds helps minimize the risk. To learn more about WNV, visit the City of Fort Collins website.
 
Tularemia Confirmed in Larimer County (July 2018)

The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment has confirmed the first human case of tularemia in a county resident in 2018. This patient developed swollen lymph nodes, and may have been exposed while gardening at home. Soil can be contaminated by tularemia-causing bacteria from the droppings or urine of sick animals, most often rabbits. When a person mows, blows leaves, or turns up the soil, these bacteria can aerosolize and be inhaled, causing pneumonic tularemia.

All warm-blooded animals are susceptible to tularemia, including livestock and pets such as dogs, cats, and birds; however, these bacteria normally occur in nature in rabbits and hares, as well as in small rodents, voles, muskrats, and beavers. A recent die-off of rabbits or rodents in a neighborhood suggests a possible tularemia outbreak among the animals in that area. The bacteria these animals shed can persist in the soil or water for weeks, and it doesn't take many bacteria to cause an infection.

Tularemia can be transmitted to people, such as hunters, who have handled infected animals. Infection can also arise from the bite of infected insects (most commonly ticks and deer flies); by exposure to contaminated food, water, or soil; by eating, drinking, putting hands to eyes, nose, or mouth before washing after outdoor activities; by direct contact with breaks in the skin; or by inhaling particles carrying the bacteria (through mowing or blowing vegetation and excavating soil). In recent years, most human tularemia cases along the Front Range have been attributed to activities involving soil and vegetation.

Typical signs of infection in humans may include fever, chills, headache, swollen and painful lymph glands, and fatigue. If tularemia is caused by the bite of an infected insect or from bacteria entering a cut or scratch, it usually causes a skin ulcer or pustule and swollen glands. Eating or drinking food or water containing the bacteria may produce a throat infection, mouth ulcers, stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Inhaling the bacteria may cause an infection of the lungs with chest pain and coughing.

Tularemia can be effectively treated with antibiotics. Should you have any of these early signs, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Untreated tularemia can lead to hospitalization and may be fatal if not diagnosed and treated appropriately.

Gardeners, landscapers, mowers, outdoor workers, and others participating in leisure activities outside are advised to:
  • Wear gloves when gardening or planting trees, and always wash hands before eating or putting hands to mouth, nose, or eyes
  • Wear a dust mask when mowing or blowing vegetation, or excavating or tilling soil
  • Wear an insect repellent effective against ticks, biting flies, and mosquitoes (DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 are good choices)
  • Wear shoes, rather than going barefoot, on grassy lawns, especially if dead rabbits or rodents have been seen in the neighborhood
  • Never touch dead animals with bare hands

  • For more information about tularemia and how to protect people and pets, visit this webpage.
     
    Rabies in Larimer County (July 2018)

    As of July 2018, the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment has confirmed that 22 skunks and 3 bats have tested positive for rabies in Larimer County. So far, the skunks have been found in Loveland, Fort Collins, Timnath, Wellington, and Carr. The bats were found in Loveland and Fort Collins.

    Rabies can infect any warm-blooded mammal, but in Larimer County it is most commonly found in bats and skunks. Skunk rabies may pose a greater risk to pets and people because -- as ground-based animals -- they may interact more with people and pets than a rabid bat would.

    If you see a skunk, bat, or other animals that's behaving strangely, keep your distance and call the Larimer Humane Society's animal control number at 970-226-3647, #7. Unusual skunk behavior can include being out during the daytime, being aggressive, turning in circles, or appearing tame and unafraid of people or pets.

    The Department of Health and Environment reminds pet owners to keep their animals' rabies vaccinations up to date to prevent lengthy and costly quarantines -- or even euthanasia -- if pets have an encounter with a rabid animal. Livestock owners should check with their veterinarians about rabies vaccinations for their horses, cattle, and other livestock.

    Ways to protect you and your family:
  • Do not feed or touch wildlife.
  • Teach children to observe wildlife from a distance and to notify an adult if there is a wild animal in the area or if they are bitten or scratched.
  • Eliminate food sources for wild animals by not feeding pets outdoors, closing pet doors (especially at night), and tightly closing garbage cans and feed bins.
  • Ensure that your pets, horses, and livestock are up to date on their rabies vaccinations.

  • For the latest information on rabies in Larimer County, visit the county website.
     
    Bike Month in June (2018)

    Every June, Colorado celebrates Bike Month, and here in Fort Collins we love anything that highlights and promotes people who ride bicycles.

    Each year on the fourth Wednesday of June, FC Bikes hosts its signature Bike Month event: Bike to Work Day (BTWD). Fort Collins' Bike to Work Day, on June 27 this year, is an event to encourage people to bicycle for transportation; experience the benefits of riding a bike; highlight Fort Collins' extensive bike routes; and demonstrate that bicycling is an easy, fun, and healthy way to travel around the city.

    On Bike to Work Day, breakfast stations will be set up across the city from 6:30am to 9:30am, and cyclists are encouraged to stop by on the way to work for coffee, orange juice, bagels, breakfast burritos, and a variety of other breakfast options, depending on which station(s) you visit.

    For more info about Bike Month and for a list of breakfast station locations so that you can plan your route on Bike to Work Day, go to the FC Bikes' webpage.
     
    Community Discussion: Rethinking Addiction on May 16 (2018)

    Join us on May 16 for a community discussion on Rethinking Addiction: Using Science to Build an Ecosystem of Treatment and Recovery. The Health District of Northern Larimer County and the Mental Health and Substance Use Alliance of Larimer County are hosting national and local experts to discuss new ways of thinking about addiction as we work to transform perceptions and treatment of substance use disorders in Larimer County. This is an opportunity to hear Dr. Corey Waller, a well-respected national expert on addictions and substance use, along with other impactful speakers. We will explore topics such as these: Does substance use treatment really work? Is addiction a brain disease?

    This event is free and open to the public. Light snacks will be provided. Please join us from 7:00-8:30 p.m. at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins. For more information and to register, go to the Eventbrite website. If you have any problems registering, please contact Wendy at wgrogran@healthdistrict.org or at 970-530-2738.
     

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