Family of West Nile Victim Wants Fewer Regulations on Mosquito Spraying
KREX News Room
MONTROSE, Colo.- NewsChannel 5 spoke to the family of a victim of West Nile virus. They say if large scale mosquito spraying wasn't so restricted, other families could escape the type of loss they are facing.
Out of the 33 confirmed cases of the West Nile virus in Colorado, six are in Montrose County.
It was confirmed Tuesday morning that two of those Montrose residents have died due to complications of the virus.
Dorothy Meaker was one of the victims.
"Everybody says, 'Are you kidding me? She survived the cancers and she got bit by a mosquito?' Nobody understand how serious this is," said Randy Meaker, Dorothy's son.
Unfortunately, Dorothy wasn't the only person killed by the virus.
"We had confirmation of two West Nile deaths ... they are here in Montrose County and they are the first two deaths in the state," said Diana Williams of Montrose County Health and Human Services.
While the Meakers mourn their loss, they are still asking one question.
"How do we control this so somebody else doesn't lose their mother or their father?" asked Randy.
Many health officials support the Fight the Bite campaign.
"Simple tips like utilizing mosquito repellent, making sure they drain the water that is standing around their properties," said Williams.
But the Meakers say that is just not enough.
"I think it's a Band-Aid and yet we're not stopping the bleeding. For example, I have a can of OFF! so I spray myself, all that doesn't do you a bit of good," said Randy.
"It used to be, 20 years ago, they would fog Olathe, they'd fog the ditch banks and take care of the problem," said Deb Meaker, Dorothy's daughter-in-law.
After the passing of the Clean Water Act, lengthy monitoring and permit systems were imposed on large scale mosquito spraying, making it easy to sue those who incorrectly file paperwork.
As a result, some companies no longer want to take that risk.
"The intention by the Environmental Protection Agency and both the Health [Department] that they weren't going to enforce it. If they do an audit on the paperwork you submitted and they find something they don't like in there, now you're getting a possibility of $37,500 a day per violation fines," said Leonard Felix, owner of Olathe Spray Service.
The Meakers hope to see changes to legislation that they think would stop reoccurring West Nile related deaths.
"There are remedies for this, we just need to let the people who can do something about it, do it," said Deb.
Montrose Health officials reiterate the importance of wearing long sleeved clothing, using mosquito repellent or both while outside even while transitioning into the fall.