'Tis the season for mosquitoes, but are these bugs simply pests or do they pose a health risk?
In 2003 many entities along the Front Range joined together to establish mosquito control programs designed to help combat the spread of the West Nile Virus. Jefferson County and the cities located within the county boundaries (including Arvada) jointly funded a mosquito control program to mitigate the initial spread of the disease. In particular, the program aimed to kill the larvae of the mosquitoes which are known to carry the West Nile Virus The method used to kill the larval was to place a granulated product in water sources; this product was safe to the aquatic environment but not mosquitoes. The program was a success, and the number of reported cases since 2003 diminished to the point that in 2010 there was only one case of West Nile Virus reported in all of Jefferson County.
As part of their 2011 budgetary process, the Jefferson County Health Department evaluated the program, weighing the need for the program as well as the cost and the benefits, and concluded that the program should be discontinued. City of Arvada staff examined the possibility of maintaining a mosquito control program for our community, and concluded that the program would cost about $80,000. The $80,000 program would have to cover not only Arvada but also areas beyond our city limits as mosquitoes know no boundaries. Based primarily on nearly zero cases of West Nile Virus reported in all of Jefferson County, the City of Arvada chose not to take over the mosquito control program for this area. Without an active suppression program, the mosquito population will likely rebound to pre-2003 levels, however, it is expected the number of West Nile Virus cases will remain very low.
Although mosquitoes can be a nuisance there are ways to prevent them from ruining your summer. The best way to reduce the risk and combat this summer pest is to remember the four D’s:
- DEET: Wear insect repellant containing 20-35% DEET.
- DRAIN: Drain or empty standing water around your home because that is where mosquitoes lay their eggs. Mosquitoes can effectively breed in a small source of water; therefore, make sure that all standing water is gone. Outdoor dog bowls, toys, plugged roof gutters and flower pots are just a few of the places where mosquitoes thrive.
- DUSK/DAWN: Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing during evening and early morning (dusk and dawn) or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times when mosquitoes are most active. However, there are mosquitoes out at all times of the day.
- DRESS: Dress in long sleeves and pants during dusk and dawn or in areas where mosquitoes are active.
The City of Arvada does not take part in nuisance pest control; rather, previous efforts were solely to protect the safety and health of our community thereby vastly reducing the threat of West Nile Virus cases throughout the county and state. The mosquito control program initiated in 2003 was developed to address a public health issue by eradicating the type of mosquito that carries the West Nile Virus. Had West Nile Virus not been an issue no action would have been taken in regards to killing mosquitoes. We are relying on our County Health Department officials to continue monitoring all potential mosquito borne diseases and to advise us if future action is warranted.