FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4)– One city in Northern Colorado has launched a late-season attack on the West Nile Virus.
Fort Collins has started spraying for mosquitoes in what is typically the time frame when spraying is winding down. The city hasn’t sprayed for mosquitoes in five years.
“We haven’t sprayed since 2007,” said Fort Collins Parks Supervisor Mike Calhoon.
Calhoon said mosquito numbers were low for most of the season and then exploded, “All of a sudden the first of August and end of July we started seeing positive traps and it just started amplifying from there.”
Health officials fear this could be the worst year on record for the West Nile Virus nationwide with 2,118 cases with 92 deaths.
So far for Colorado it has been a relatively mild year but experts want to protect residents from a late surge as more human cases are reported.
Two deaths have been reported in Montrose County. One of them was Dorothy Iris Meaker, 86.
There have been 33 confirmed cases statewide with 11 of those reported in the past week. One of those cases was in Larimer County.
The City of Fort Collins has deployed seven trucks to spray the city, including parks. They plan to cover 19 square miles in what is a focused effort to wipe out those insects that carry the West Nile Virus.
“We knocked a bunch down on Thursday night. Now we’re cleaning up the rest of them tonight,” said Calhoon about the spraying on Tuesday night.
Health experts don’t know what caused the spike of mosquitoes that tested positive for West Nile in Fort Collins but there is one theory.
Since it was so hot this summer and Colorado didn’t receive a lot of rain, people irrigated and watered more which caused little pools of water to build up in hard to find places.
Those pools are perfect breeding grounds for the type of mosquito that carries the West Nile Virus.
“That’s just a theory. But it’s one that makes sense in my head,” said Calhoon.
Spraying will only do so much. Health experts said the rest is up to each individual to protect themselves.
“If you don’t get bitten you don’t get West Nile,” said Calhoon. “Take that personal protection.”
Spraying in the parks is not popular. The parks department said two-thirds of the calls they received about the spraying was negative.
They said they would rather not spray but must to keep the mosquito population down.