12:45pm

Wed July 10, 2013
Environment

Little known Facts About West Nile Virus

Credit Wikimedia Commons

With the West Nile Virus season upon us, here are some facts that you may not have known about the seasonal blight.

  • Not all mosquitoes die with a hard freeze. The West Nile Virus can overwinter in some types of mosquitoes who spend the winter as adults.
  • It’s true that some people seem to attract mosquitoes more than others. According to Colorado State University, “mosquitoes use a variety of cues to find their hosts, including volatile chemicals (e.g., carbon dioxide, lactic acid, octenol), shape, color, heat, and humidity. Individuals vary in the type and amount of these cues they produce, so they also vary in their attractiveness to mosquitoes.”
  • Mosquitoes cannot transmit AIDS.
  • West Nile virus occurs mostly in birds. Mosquitoes pick the virus up when they feed on infected birds and transmit it when they feed on uninfected birds. When the number of infected birds and mosquitoes reaches a certain level then transmission to other animals, including humans and horses, occurs.
  • There are no reports of transmission of West Nile from person to person through “normal contact,” however there are a few of transmission through blood transfusions, donated organs, mother to child during pregnancy and breast feeding.  
  • Some mosquitoes can be found as high as 10,000 feet in elevation. Colorado State University’s website says “Culex tarsalis, one of the main West Nile virus vectors, commonly occurs up to altitudes of 8,500 feet and is found as high as 10,000 feet above sea level. Other potential vectors are more common above 8,500 feet and can be found well above this elevation. On the other hand, the transmission season becomes shorter as elevation increases, which probably reduces risk significantly. Given the lack of knowledge and experience with this disease in Colorado, it is prudent to use an effective repellent when mosquitoes are active, even at these higher elevations.”

For information on how you can protect yourself and your pets from contracting West Nile Virus, click here.