Fight the Bite Colorado

The El Paso County Health Department is taking steps to educate the public about West Nile Virus this summer. The Department has launched a campaign called "Fight the Bite Colorado."

Health experts say this year, the second for the virus here in Colorado, will be worse.

Dr. Tom Wood with the El Paso County Health Department says mosquitos aren't breeding yet, but he anticipates they will be out by the end of this month. Mosquitos become carriers of the virus after they feed on an infected bird.

Health officials say, though the disease is rare, people do need to know how to prevent it. Especially with our recent increase in moisture, the environment is becoming more beneficial for mosquitos to reproduce.

Some tips from experts: eliminate any standing water around your home, i.e. buckets, pans, or spare tires. The Health Department recommends throwing such items away. Another precaution is to weat long sleeved shirts, pants and mosquito repellant with deet in it while you're outside.

Last year, there were 400 cases of West Nile in horses. This year people with horses are urged to vaccinate their animals now. Additionally, there were 12 cases of the virus in people in 2002.

Symptoms of West Nile Virus include: a high temperature, muscle aches, and servere headaches. If you experience any of the symptoms and you know you've recently been bitten by a mosquito, go to your doctor and have yourself checked as quickly as possible. Some people who are exposed to the virus will never have symptoms.

For more information on the West Nile Virus, and ways to prevent it, log on to one of the following Web sites: