Proceeding with caution against W. Nile |

Proceeding with caution against W. Nile

Mosquitoes used to be no more than an uncomfortable inconvenience ” the itchy bites a required price for fishing through a hatch or taking a hike through the brush to get an unfettered view of the sunset.

But that all changed last summer as West Nile captured headlines, infecting nearly 3,000 Coloradans and killing 55.

It’s expected to be worse this year, particularly on the Western Slope.

Fortunately, Garfield County is taking a proactive approach to the disease and, more specifically, to those pesky mosquitoes that transfer it to people and animals.

It’s always a little scary tampering with the natural balance by attempting to limit the growth of an entire species, but the plan in place seems to be the safest available, both to people and the ecology as a whole.

Garfield County has hired Colorado Mosquito Control Inc. of Brighton, and the experts there will use a specialized bacteria to attack mosquito larvae ” and only mosquito larvae.

County and company officials say limited spraying will likely be required to knock out the adult mosquitoes that escape the larvicide.

Spraying is a very serious business that can kill beneficial insects and pose health risks for people and animals. The Garfield County Commissioners should maintain oversight on when Colorado Mosquito Control resorts to spraying, notify the public and make sure spraying is truly justified.

Residents of Garfield County can also play a key role by keeping unnecessary standing water to a minimum. Drain those puddles, get rid of old tires and keep the water moving through your property. Horse owners should schedule West Nile vaccine booster shots in the next month.

West Nile is poised to be a serious health threat this summer, and it will take diligence on many fronts to prevent tragic deaths and illness.

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