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Petition seeks a mosquito testing laboratory in state

BRANDON/SUDBURY/WHITING — The efforts of legislators seeking increased funding for mosquito surveillance may be bolstered by a citizen’s petition seeking an in-state testing lab.
Colleen Wright, a friend of Scott Sgorbati, who contracted Eastern equine encephalitis and died last month, has started a petition seeking support for an in-state arbovirus surveillance lab.
A number of area legislators recently met with the Brandon Leicester Goshen Salisbury Mosquito District to discuss funding a statewide program for surveillance and treatment of mosquitoes. A virus carried by mosquitoes and transmitted to humans and other mammals such as EEE and West Nile Virus is called an arbovirus, short for “arthropod-borne” virus.
Petitions are posted at the Leicester General Store, the Whiting Country Store and Dirty Works Laundromat in Brandon. The petitions states:
“We the undersigned Citizens of the State of Vermont demand that our legislators create a staffed Arbovirus Surveillance Laboratory within the 2013 Legislative session. We also demand that the CDC immediately return to full funding for this program.”
The Centers for Disease Control funds the state’s arbovirus surveillance program and the testing work or entomologist Alan Graham, but that funding has seen a 75 percent reduction in recent years.
Those mosquitoes that tested positive for EEE this summer were tested at a lab in New York under a contract with Vermont because there is no lab capable of doing that type of testing in the Green Mountain State.
On her Facebook page, Wright implores others to sign the petition.
“We have to make our legislators realize that this problem with EEE, West Nile Virus, Lyme Disease is not going to go away,” she wrote. “We as citizens have the right to know when there is a health concern in our area so that we can take individual and immediate precautions.”
Wright said that she realizes personal protection is important, but that funding is key.
“Yes, I believe that we need to take precautions aggressively, such as dumping water and keeping high grass mown,” she said. “But in order to do these things, we need to be aware of the hazard. I do not want to lose another friend to keep a bureaucrats’ budget cuts intact.”

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