State health workers help 'Fight the Bite'

The campaign against West Nile Virus got a boost this week.

Representatives from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment drove from Denver to help spread the word about mosquito season safety.

Koral O'Brien and Tyler Zarndt spent the past two days distributing educational pamphlets to hotels, gas stations, restaurants and other public places in Moffat, Routt and Grand counties.

The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association already had posted "Fight the Bite" posters in Moffat County and three articles ran in the Daily Press, but Susan Bowler said they wanted to do more to raise public awareness.

Bowler, public health nurse manager at the association, said she asked for help, and the state responded.

The association carries the burden of public health needs in Routt and Moffat counties.

Bowler said she didn't have the staff or resources to canvass the two counties with additional West Nile virus information.

"They offered the help, and I said thank you and bless you," Bowler said.

The team targeted locations where residents and tourists will have access to the information.

Bowler said their visits to hotels in Routt County were a big help as many tourists who may not otherwise have information on the virus might benefit.

Three human cases of West Nile Virus have been confirmed this year in Colorado, according to John Pape, epidemiologist with the state.

None required hospitalization and none was on the Western Slope, but the height of mosquito season is yet to come, Pape said.

The biggest risk from the virus usually is in mid-August through September, but now is the time to be guarding against mosquitoes, Pape said.

The state team worked collaboratively with the Visiting Nurse Association and distributed Fight the Bite pamphlets as well as information from the Boulder County Department of Health.

"We are thrilled to have assistance from the sate in our awareness efforts," Bowler said.

Michelle Wallar can be reached at 824-7031.

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