Longmont residents angry about citywide mosquito spraying

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LONGMONT, Colo. -- We’ve heard the saying, “Fight the Bite,” when protecting yourself from mosquitoes.

Now, some Longmont residents are fighting the spraying that kills those mosquitoes.

They’re upset about a citywide emergency spraying Monday and Friday. About two dozen of them show up Tuesday night to give city council an earful at the Civic Center Complex.

It’s an insecticide that kills mosquitoes.

But some residents say the citywide spraying also killed their freedom of choice.

“The big problem was calling it a public health emergency basically negated everyone’s rights to opt out of spraying,” says Jackie Hansen, who lives in Old Town Longmont.

She says instead, she and her family had to shut themselves off from the outside—shutting windows, turning off air conditioning and roasting in the process—all for naught.

“I don’t think there’s a public health emergency. I know they found pockets of mosquitoes. But it’s my understanding there’s only one case of West Nile virus,” she says.

Hansen is not the only one opposed to the widespread aerial spraying of Permethrin over two nights.

“Permethrin the chemical being used is a known neurotoxin,” says one woman at the city council meeting.

Residents tell city council they worry the insecticide kills not only mosquitoes but harms people and animals too.

“You, our elected government, have chosen to sacrifice the safety of the bees and anyone who’d prefer not to be sprayed with toxins,” says another unnamed speaker.

But Longmont leaders say the spraying was an emergency, after traps showed a high number of mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus two weeks in a row.

“When the Culex mosquito indicates there is a higher risk of West Nile for humans that’s the time to take action. That’s what the city of Longmont did,” says Michael “Doc” Weissmann of Colorado Mosquito Control.

And without that action, Weismann says we would have seen a lot more human cases.

Besides, he and medical doctors agree the chemicals are safe.

“The fine spray is so minimal even if exposed outside you have very little risk,” says Dr. Wayne Guerra, chief medical officer of iTriage, a medical mobile app, that helps everyday people diagnose illness and symptoms.

Dr. Guerra says the alternative is contracting a disease with no known cure.

“Your risk of getting West Nile is higher than any risk from aerial spraying,” he says.

There is just one confirmed case of human West Nile virus in Colorado this year in Delta County.

But Weissmann says doctors are not testing for the virus anymore—so people could be infected and not know it. And we’re approaching the peak for infections the next few weeks.

Culex mosquitoes will be out looking for blood through the end of August.

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