Mosquitoes might bring West Nile virus

Brief by Central Staff

Insects – April 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

There are times when the drought seems like a blessing of sorts. More precisely, the one time was last summer, when we were at a potluck in Saguache and were able to sit outdoors without fighting off mosquitoes. The water table was too low to support the ponds they breed in.

But there were some mosquitoes hereabouts last summer, and a few of them were carrying West Nile Virus. It is most deadly to horses — about 30% of those infected die — but there is a vaccine. As for us humans, less than 1% of those infected will die.

Last summer, there were two confirmed cases of West Nile in the area horse population, one near Sanford in the San Luis Valley, and the other in Custer County. Plus, there were two on the east side of Frémont County.

That’s close enough so that Chaffee County will monitor mosquitoes this summer. Traps will be set — a bright light will be the bait — and the captured insects will be retrieved from the net and examined for the disease. If it’s found, then the alert will go out.

The county recommends that horses get vaccinated in March and July. Humans are supposed to cover themselves from June to the first hard skeeter-killing frost, typically in early October, but we suspect that we’ll still see a lot of people in T-shirts and shorts when the weather gets warm.

Of course, if the drought persists, there won’t be much standing water, and thus there won’t be many mosquitoes. Even clear skies can have silver linings, it appears. However, we’d rather see some rain, and take our chances with the skeeters.