Longmont completes emergency citywide pesticide spraying to kill mosquitoes, West Nile virus

Many mosquitoes test positive for West Nile virus

LONGMONT, Colo. - The city of Longmont is conducting a second round of citywide mosquito spraying to combat West Nile, after the virus was found in a high number of mosquito pools.

Nine trucks were spraying pesticide from 9 p.m. Monday until 2 a.m. Tuesday, driving about 380 miles of city streets, misting the areas where mosquitos might be found.
 
But the pesticide spraying had some residents worried about health hazards.
 
"I think it's an overreaction," said Melissa Rickson, a Longmont homeowner who doesn't use pesticides on her garden and doesn't want the city spraying it either. "It's Draconian. We used to do this in the '50s when I was young and in Kansas they would spray DDT down the streets," she added, referring to a pesticide that was banned in the United States in 1972.
 
But Lane Drager, consumer protection coordinator with Boulder County Public Health, said in the last two weeks the number of mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile has shot up, and while there is only one human case of West Nile this year in Colorado, they're trying to prevent the disease, not react to it.
 
"It takes usually several weeks for somebody who's been infected to actually see symptoms of the disease," said Drager. "By that time, there's been a lot of people infected in the community if you wait to react to that."
 
Drager said the chemical used is a carcinogen, but it is being used in an ultra low volume that should not be harmful to people or pets.
 
It is also used to treat lice and in household pest killers, he said.
 
"We have to look at all the risks," said Drager.  "And the risk to our community from this disease is very apparent; whereas the risk of this pesticide is very minimal."
 
Still, Rickson said a group of people opposed to the pesticide spraying will speak at Tuesday night's City Council study session about their concerns.