COUNTY PARTNERS WITH REGIONAL AGENCIES TO COMBAT WEST NILE VIRUS

COUNTY PARTNERS WITH REGIONAL AGENCIES TO COMBAT WEST NILE VIRUS

Doña Ana County – in conjunction with New Mexico State University, New Mexico Department of Public Health, El Paso County/City Health Department, the State of Chihuahua and the City of Juarez – will kick off a regional anti-mosquito campaign at 9:30 a.m., Thursday, May 22, 2003.

The event will take place at the Wild Cat Bosque on the corner of Country Club Road and Westside Road in the City of Sunland Park, N.M. Officials there will demonstrate the use of mosquito traps, which are employed to catch mosquitoes at various locations around the region. The trapped mosquitoes are then tested to determine whether they are carrying West Nile Virus. The insects also are screened for Western Equine Virus and St. Louis Encephalitis.

State health officials issued an alert last month warning that every county in New Mexico is likely to see instances of West Nile Virus this summer. Mosquitoes most commonly transmit the blood-borne disease, which can be fatal to humans, horses and many species of birds. Last summer, two cases in horses were confirmed in Doña Ana County. Nationally, 277 people died from complications related to West Nile Virus in 2002.

Mosquito activity in southern New Mexico normally begins in mid-May and accelerates through the summer. To combat West Nile Virus this year, Doña Ana County will aggressively treat marshy areas. The county also is offering mosquito-larva-eating fish, free of charge, to any county resident with a decorative pond or who lives in an area where standing water is prevalent during peak months of mosquito activity. The fish, which resemble guppies, eat about five times their own weight in mosquito larvae each day.

The county also has enacted an amnesty program by which private property owners may bring old tires to any of the county’s eight dumping stations for disposal, free of charge. Old tires are prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes. The county’s dumping stations are located in Anthony, La Mesa, Hill, Butterfield, Mesquite, La Union, Hatch and Garfield.

For more information, call the Doña Ana County Environmental Department at (505) 647-7117. Residents calling from outside the Las Cruces area may call toll-free at 1-877-827-7200 and request extension 7117.