breaking news

Defense bill to benefit Springfield airport, drone research

State-paid West Nile virus program cut

A state program to give advance warnings of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus will be discontinued and local health departments will have to pick up the tab, the Ohio Health Department said in a memo distributed to local health officials late last week.

The Zoonotic Disease Program at a state lab in Reynoldsburg tests insect samples sent from local health programs and also identifies ticks that carry lyme disease. It will be discontinued because federal funding has dried up, Theodore W. Wymyslo, Ohio Director of Health, said in an April 11 memo obtained by this newspaper.

Officials called 2012 one of the worst summers for the virus in the state and across the nation. Federal tallies by Dec. 11 showed 48 states reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds, or mosquitoes. A total of 5,387 cases of West Nile virus disease in people, including 243 deaths, were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were 121 Ohio cases reported and seven deaths.

Wymyslo said that despite a reduced budget, the state was able to continue the program last year using a stock of laboratory testing supplies. The outbreak exhausted those supplies, he added.

Combating disease outbreaks at the local level also includes community education, draining breeding pools, and spraying, Wymyslo’s memo noted. Local health officials should make use of a tick identification guide at the state’s health website, he said, and the state is considering hosting mosquito identification clinics. He recommended that local officials use outside labs for identification and testing services rather than try to do testing in-house.

Last year, testing in Montgomery County of 350 mosquito breeding grounds found that about a third held West Nile-carrying mosquitoes.

“While mosquito surveillance is a valuable part of (West Nile Virus) response planning, the federal government has cut funding to this area and ODH does not have other funds available to support this activity,” Wymyslo said.

Local county health officials said they’re trying to figure out how to respond to the move. Warren County Environmental Health Director Dennis Murray said the county will send a letter to the state asking officials to reconsider. The county, which recorded two West Nile cases in 2012, will continue treating stagnate water areas based on complaints.

Not all counties fund mosquito control programs through their health departments. In Miami County for example, mosquito control is done through cities, townships and villages, said Chris Cook, Miami County Health Commissioner.

In Montgomery County, which reported 12 cases of West Nile in 2012, a decision will be made in the next couple of weeks, said Mark Case, the environmental health director for Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County.

The county might launch an in-house testing program using kits, which are less accurate than state testing, to continue monitoring for the virus. That will cost at least an additional $7,000. The county’s mosquito control program that uses traps to count insects and then sprays the bug hot spots around the county will not be affected by the state program’s closure, Case added.

Clark County, which had eight reported cases of West Nile last year, doesn’t plan to do any in-house testing of mosquitoes. It will continue to emphasize public education to keep the disease in check by asking residents to drain standing water and use insect repellent when outdoors. Dan Chatfield, the county’s Director of Environmental Health, would like the state to continue the program.

“To me, it’s important to have a state lab that supports that activity,” he said. “There is no magic pot of money at the local level to take over for what the state is not going to do anymore.”

Greene County Director of Environmental Health Deborah Leopold said the county will continue mosquito counts and collections.

Butler County officials could not be reached for comment.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in News

Happy birthday: Co-workers buy car for fellow employee 
Happy birthday: Co-workers buy car for fellow employee 

A Michigan man will never forget his 19th birthday, thanks to the generosity of his co-workers, WJRT reported. Noah Robinson had been riding his bicycle to work from Saginaw to Kochville Township, pedaling the 6 ½ miles in 45 minutes regardless of the weather conditions. He works in the shipping department at Glastender and lives with his...
Indiana boy carves wooden toys for needy children
Indiana boy carves wooden toys for needy children

A 10-year-old Indiana boy is building toys from scratch to help children in need enjoy the holiday season, WISH reported. Zander Hite of Greenwood took the advice of his grandfather, Darl Hite, who gave the boy a $20 bill last winter and told him to make a difference this holiday season. Zander bought two slabs of wood to build toy cars, WISH...
South Vienna students collect food for needy in Clark, Champaign
South Vienna students collect food for needy in Clark, Champaign

Students at South Vienna School collected hundreds of cans and boxes of food for people in need in Clark and Champaign counties. The drive was spearheaded by the student council, seventh-grade student Trinity Ridgeway said. “We are doing a food drive for our community, for the Nation Chapel Church. They have a food pantry there,” she said...
Former Washington State high school employee accused of rape
Former Washington State high school employee accused of rape

A former employee at a Washington State high school was charged Thursday afternoon with allegedly raping a 15-year-old student. Kristal M. Gamble, 33, was employed as an office assistant at Kent Meridian High School when she allegedly initiated an illegal sexual relationship with a boy last spring. According to Detective Melanie Robinson...
Drug-filled drone crashes at Arizona prison
Drug-filled drone crashes at Arizona prison

A drone crashed at an Arizona prison in September, and officials found drugs and cellphones aboard the vehicle, The Arizona Republic reported.  The drone crashed in a yard accessible only to corrections officers. The Arizona Department of Corrections said Thursday it is still trying to determine who was behind the delivery Sept. 24 delivery...
More Stories