Wet weather ideal for disease carrying mosquitoes

By Thomas Garcia: Freedom New Mexico

Mosquitoes pack a much greater threat than a ruined backyard barbecue. They are host to the mosquito-borne disease West Nile Virus.

The recent rain in Curry and Roosevelt counties has provided favorable conditions for the annoying little pest to thrive, state and city officials said.

“Any time there is a lot of moisture there is an increased chance for West Nile Virus,” said Deborah Busemeyer, New Mexico Department of Health communications director.

City officials have taken steps to control and eliminate mosquitoes.

“We have been working on prevention and treatment since March,” said City of Clovis Vector Control officer Francis Warner.

City of Portales Public Works Director Tom Howell said that the drainage ditches in Portales are treated with a larvicide to prevent the mosquitoes’ development.

“We will treat the ditches as frequently as once a month,” Howell said. “We will monitor the ditches throughout the year for standing water.”

Warner said the greatest threat comes from standing water that can not be seen.

“The unkept pool in the backyard can be a prime breeding ground,” Warner said. “The homeowner can help out immensely by treating the pool and any standing water on their property.”

Busemeyer said there have been no confirmed cases of West Nile in New Mexico this year.

There were 60 cases in New Mexico last year, including two in Curry County and one in Roosevelt County, according to the department of health.

“The disease is here to stay, and it is not going to go away,” Warner said.

The West Nile virus is usually spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Most of the time, the virus causes a mild illness but in extreme cases can also cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) or polio-like paralysis.