The mosquito-spraying schedule has been stepped up at the State Fair Grounds in Pueblo to try and prevent the spread of the West Nile Virus.
There have already been 2 deadly cases of the disease in Pueblo County, and the number of human cases is expected to grow. Colorado has a total of 154 human cases. That's the highest number in the country.
At least five of those people are being treated at St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center in Pueblo. The infectious disease specialist says there's no cure for the disease, so he just gives his patients painkillers and plenty of fluids. "Some of them are just mildly sick---headache and nausea. Others are extremely ill---almost comatose," says Dr. John Lieberman.
In just about a week, the State Fairgrounds in Pueblo will be open to hundreds of visitors. Fair organizers don't want to take any chances with mosquitoes, so they're taking aggressive action to control them.
Since the end of May, state fair workers have been spraying for mosquitoes at least once or twice per week. And that schedule is now picking up. "We're spraying every day. That will continue until it cools down and we don't have to worry about mosquitoes," says Mike Crecelius, State Fair Maintenance worker.
The fogging is done early---between 4:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. They're hoping to kill up to 95 % of the mosquitoes. Workers are also killing mosquito larvae. "Something we've added this year we didn't have in the pas---we're putting in larvae bacteria in all the ponds and we're eliminating standing water," says Chris Wiseman, State Fair Manager.
All of the fair workers have been given mosquito repellent, and they're encouraged to use it. And because of all the horses, cows and other animals at the fair, workers are also spraying for flies. But it's more important to kill the mosquitoes.
The fair is a big draw for horse lovers. There's a horse show every day, and a rodeo on the first eight nights. Since horses can also get sick and die from West Nile Virus, it's something their owners need to think about. "Most horse owners have taken precautions to vaccinate their horse, but it is a good idea. If they haven't, they ought to," says Wiseman.
The fair manager says they've done everything they can to get rid of mosquitoes. But just to be on the safe side, if you're planning to go to the fair, you should wear mosquito repellent. A long sleeved shirt and long pants are also a good idea.
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Source: www.vdh.state.va.us contributed to this report