Twice a week the mosquito spray truck meanders up and down the streets and alleys of Monte Vista, Colorado. It’s a targeted spray that hits only mosquitoes with some kind of biological warfare that doesn’t affect other insects. It’s laced with an odor that any human would recognize as bug spray.

And why?

West Nile Virus hits not only animals but people and a few people die from it each year. It’s dangerous to horses.

West Nile virus (WNV) causes a potentially fatal encephalomyelitis (inflammation of the brain and spinal cord) in a variety of mammals such as birds, horses, and humans. While long recognized in Africa, Eastern Europe, West Asia, and elsewhere, WNV was first diagnosed in North America in 1999. Since then the disease has spread rapidly throughout the continent.

Clinical Signs: Classic clinical signs of horses infected with the WNV include fever, ataxia (incoordination), stumbling, hind limb weakness, depression, anorexia, recumbency with the inability to rise, muscle tremors, teeth grinding, dysphagia (inability to swallow), head pressing, signs of colic, a flaccid (limp) paralysis of the lower lip, aimless wandering, excessive sweating, behavior changes, and convulsions or even coma.

So, considering there are probably more horses than people out here, spraying is a good thing.

The guy that drives the truck is very nice. When I walk the dogs in the evening, and he’s out spraying, he always waves, smiles, stops and suspends the spray when he sees us, picking up his work again when we’re out of range.

BUT…I remember another time when I was a kid in Nebraska and we followed the mosquito spray truck that was shooting out DDT. Those were the days when we thought it was fun to run around in a yellow cloud of pesticide.