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Health Department Ignores City Policy, Will Spray For Mosquitoes In Fort Collins

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Drastic action is being taken in one Colorado city to head off the possible spread of the West Nile virus.

Larimer County is going to spray for mosquitos to head off the virus in the heart of Fort Collins — even though the city is against the idea. The spraying will happen in four different areas.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Many people call the move by county’s health director and commissioners to overstep city policy unprecedented. The health department says it had no choice because the number of mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile virus is rising at too fast a rate to be ignored.

As the West Nile virus concerns grow across Northern Colorado communities, so to do the differences grow in how people want the problem treated.

“The city council feels like they were blindsided by the county’s actions and the lack of respect for city policy,” Fort Collins Councilman Bob Overbeck said.

Overbeck says in the last decade the city has spent more than $1.5 million addressing the West Nile virus, deciding only to spray for pests carrying the disease when many are present. Two people have reported becoming infected in the same week.

“That could be several weeks down the road and by that time you’ve missed your opportunity to provide protective actions,” Kim Meyer-Lee with the Larimer County Health Department said.

Seeing potentially hazardous lag time between the time a person is bitten and seeks care, Larimer County officials decided Tuesday to ignore city policy and spray the area south of Harmony Road to Carpenter Road between Lemay Avenue and Interstate 25.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“The health department does have the responsibility to protect the public’s health and to take actions,” Meyer-Lee said.

People opposed to mosquito spraying say the move makes them suspicious of county leaders, while some mothers are relieved.

“The spraying is a known neurotoxin and carcinogen, it’s not good for us, it kills more than just mosquitos, it’s bad for bees, it’s bad for organic gardens,” a Fort Collins resident said.

“As a new parent I worry about her getting bit and being infected. She’s already gotten some mosquito bites this summer,” Fort Collins resident Brianne Liptak said.

“I really would like to see it get taken care of because I can’t afford to have one of my kids or myself catch West Nile. It could be devastating for our family,” said Kerri Neal, who lives inside planned spray area.

As long as it’s not raining or too windy, mosquito spraying begins Friday at sunset and again on Monday.

LINK: CDC – West Nile Virus

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