Animal and Insect related Issues

  1. West Nile Virus
  2. Plague
  3. Hantavirus
  4. Rabies in Skunks/Bats
  5. Tularemia
  6. Tick Borne Disease
  7. Head Lice (pediculosis)
  8. Bed Bugs

West Nile virus (WNV)  

In Colorado, Western Equine Encephalitis "Sleeping Sickness," St. Louis Encephalitis, and West Nile Virus are all important mosquito-borne diseases. Mosquito surveillance involves capturing mosquitoes in special traps that are set out overnight. The traps catch a sample of the mosquitoes flying around in an area at the time the traps are present. These trapped mosquitoes are collected, counted and speciated by local vector control agencies. Not all jurisdictions in Colorado perform mosquito surveillance. Many species of mosquitoes may be caught in a single trap, but only Culex species mosquitoes are tested for WNV, since these are the mosquitoes that can transmit WNV to people in Colorado. Typically, only a few mosquitoes in any one trap will test positive for WNV, but that’s all it takes to continue the transmission cycle and infect people.

What should you do?

  • Drain: Empty out water containers at least once per week

  • Dress: Wear long sleeves, long pants, and light-colored, loose-fitting clothing

  • Defend: Properly apply an approved repellent such as DEET, picaridin, IR 3535 or oil of lemon-eucalyptus

  • Dusk till Dawn: Limit time spent outdoors from dusk through dawn, when mosquitoes are most active and feeding.

Learn what's going on

To learn more about what mosquito control should look like in your community, visit the CDC website.

What is West Nile Virus Infection?

The West Nile Virus is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes. It can infect many animals and humans. In people, West Nile Virus usually causes a mild illness, but it can also cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord).
This virus is named after the West Nile region of Uganda where the virus was first isolated in 1937. West Nile virus first appeared in 1999 in New York City. It first appeared in Delta County in 2003 and is now widely circulating in our area.
The best way to protect yourself from West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne diseases is to prevent mosquito bites. Wear long-sleeved light-colored clothing, use insect repellent with DEET, avoid outdoor activity at dusk and dawn, and remove standing water from your home or yard. Vaccines are available for horses and should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Delta County conducts surveillance and control activities in the same way that Summit County their video below to see how:


Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Arboviral Encephalitides
Center for Food Security and Public Health: Equine Encephalitides
Center for Food Security and Public Health: West Nile Virus
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment: West Nile Virus
U.S. Geological Survey Disease Maps

Phone Numbers

West Nile Virus Colorado Health Education Line for the Public (CO-HELP): 1-877-462-2911
Delta County Environmental Health Hot Line: 970-874-2172
Vaccination: All domestic pets, including horses and livestock, should be vaccinated against rabies. Your veterinarian can vaccinate your animals for rabies, which is required for pet licensing in the towns of Delta County. If you live in incorporated parts of Delta County, contact your town hall to see if licensing is required. Although licensing in unincorporated Delta County is currently not required, rabies vaccination is still strongly recommended to keep you and your pet safe.

Reporting and Testing: All dog bites are required to be reported to the Health Department in order for the dog to be quarantined and observed. Delta County Health Department does not test skunks, bats, or other wild animals. If a domestic animal is bitten by a wild animal, you should contact the Environmental Health program by calling (970) 874-2165 to fill out a bite report. See the CDPHE diagram for determining exposure risk.

For Cats, dogs, ferrets in U.S., first, attempt to locate the animal and if necessary (in the case of a dog bite), report to animal control . Next, assess the need for Post-Exposure Prophylaxis:
  • Geographic area: West Slope is considered low-risk vs. areas with known epizootics. If the pet has been bitten by a wild animal, this increases the risk. 
  • Known animal vs. stray (stray dogs would be at higher risk)
  • Healthy acting vs. neurological symptoms (erratic behavior/movement, "rabid" behavior)

Then, call the environmental health staff at (970) 874-2165. or CDPHE at 303-692-2700 to report the case if you feel the animal is at high risk for testing.

The transmission of rabies to humans by infected wild and domestic animals remains a threat to human health. Cases of rabies continue in Colorado today, although the last known human rabies case was in 1931. All mammals can get rabies and usually contract the disease by a bite from an infected animal. Because rabies affects the brain, signs in animals and people include abnormal behavior change. Nocturnal animals, like bats, may come out during the day. After a bite, it may take several months for rabies signs to develop, but once signs develop in humans or animals, the disease is fatal. Luckily, rabies is a preventable disease through vaccination and proper after-bite care. 

Prevention: To decrease the risk of rabies, do not handle wildlife or bats, and report any rabies suspects to an animal control officer. If bitten, wash the wound immediately and contact your physician if you suspect the animal was rabid. Remember, a bat bite or scratch is an emergency!
Colorado Rabies Statute 

Zoonoses Resources

Encephalitis, plague, hantavirus, rabies, tularemia, and other tick borne diseases continue to be public health threats in Western Colorado. The Zoonosis Control Program provides assistance to individuals, animal control agencies, and veterinarians with regard to these diseases. 

You may also be interested in learning more about these important topics:

Roundworms and Pets (Iowa Department of Public Health)

Common Questions about Zoonoses (Iowa Department of Public Health)

A Guide To Healthy Animal Experiences with Young Children (Iowa Department of Public Health) (a website dedicated to helping protect your family and home from pests)