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Northern Colorado has perfect breeding conditions for mosquitos carrying West Nile

Larimer County has reported 29 cases of West Nile so far this year. All the counties with the most West Nile cases are all in Northern Colorado.

FORT COLLINS, Colo. —  Larimer County is seeing ten times the number of mosquitoes they're used to, and many of them carry the West Nile virus, which has already killed eleven people across Colorado. 

Inside the Center for Vector Born Infectious Diseases at Colorado State University, Director Greg Ebel tests mosquitoes for West Nile. His lab reports the results to the county to determine the threat people in the area face of being infected with the virus. 

"I've never seen this many mosquitoes," he said. "We've seen extraordinarily high numbers of vector mosquitoes, mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus. Culex Tarsalis numbers are over ten times what we typically see."

Culex Tarsalis, Ebel said, are the best West Nile transmitters on the planet. Until this year, he said he's never seen risk of West Nile this high in Colorado.

Larimer County has reported 29 cases of West Nile so far this year. All the counties with the most West Nile cases are all in Northern Colorado, and it's because the conditions there are perfect for mosquitoes to breed.

"It has to do with a couple of things. One is just how we use land here. There is a lot of irrigated agriculture. We have a lot of smallish bodies of water where mosquitoes like to breed. And we have a lot of people who live here," Ebel explained. "Put those two things together and you're going to get cases of West Nile."

The wet winter and spring left a lot of standing water, which is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. The state health department says Larimer, Weld and Boulder Counties all have the best sources of water for mosquitoes to breed and spread West Nile. 

"This is about our third unusual year in a row so we may be heading towards a new normal where we see more West Nile activity and more mosquitoes out there," Ebel said.

Some cities are choosing to spray for mosquitoes to try and stop West Nile cases from spreading. Other cities are choosing not to do that and instead just warn people that there are West Nile cases, and they should probably wear mosquito repellant. We'll let you decide which works better. 

The vast majority of people infected with West Nile will never experience any symptoms. 

The Larimer County Health Department says they've started seeing a significant increase in cases of the virus in just the last couple of weeks but expect to see many more through the end of the summer. 

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