Rio Blanco County to host West Nile forum

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Even the possibility of West Nile virus coming to Rio Blanco County is something that frightens Bill Ekstrom, CSU Cooperative Extension agent.
"It has everyone locally and all over the state nervous," he said.
As part of their continuing efforts to keep residents up to date on health issues, Rio Blanco Nursing Services is hosting forums in Rangely and Meeker to share information on prevention and to answer questions concerning West Nile virus.
The first meeting will be held in Rangely on Monday at Town Hall and the second in Meeker on June 29 at the Fairfield Center. Both meetings begin at 6 p.m.
According to Ekstrom, Diane Banta, director of Rio Blanco County Nursing Services, was this year's county representative at the state conference.
"She will have the most current information from the state," he said. "We want to let people know the county will aggressively fight West Nile virus if it hits in Rio Blanco County," Ekstrom said.
There have been two confirmed cases of West Nile in humans in Colorado and one in a horse in Montrose this year. The cases were detected more than a month earlier that the first cases last year. Horses are much more likely to get the disease than cows, and birds are one of the major carriers.
"If you find a dead bird, do not touch it. Use an plastic bag as a glove, tie it off and throw it away," Ekstrom said.
He also said some birds that have recently died could be tested for West Nile virus. The CSU Extension Office, the Rangely Police Department and the Rio Blanco County Sheriff are collection sites.
"Ravens, crows, magpies and nutcrackers can all be tested," he said.
He said last year there were several cases of West Nile in Garfield and Mesa counties. There were none in Rio Blanco or Moffat County, but there was a pool of standing water that did test positive in Moffat County.
"It was handled aggressively and eradicated," he said.
Other speakers at the forum include Kate Lujan, an epidemiologist for the Colorado Department of Health, Dave Karschner of Rangely's mosquito abatement program, Meeker Town Manager Sharon Day, Meeker Mayor Steve Loshbaugh, veterinarian Paul Neilson, the Board of County Commissioners and Diane Banta, director of the Rio Blanco County Nursing Service.
Day said the mayor will talk about the simple things people can do for prevention.
"We think prevention make more since then fighting an epidemic," Day said.
Day said one inexpensive product that is used for standing water is called mosquito dunk. She said it lasts about 60 days and is harmless to animals that might drink the water.
"This is something everyone can do," Day said. "We want to get as much information to the public as we can, so we hope people come."
For the more information on West Nile, visit www.fightthebitecolorado.com or call 1-877-462-2911.

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