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Gov. Rendell Proposes Help for Counties Battling West Nile; Warns Future Amounts Could be Less

May 8, 2009

Senate Republican Budget Proposal Could Slash Grants by 40 Percent

HARRISBURG, Pa., May 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — After a year in which the West Nile Virus was discovered in 33 counties and 14 Pennsylvanians were diagnosed with the disease, including one fatality, Governor Edward G. Rendell today announced a plan to help counties monitor and control mosquitoes.

The Governor warned, however, that the actual grant amounts counties receive could be slashed under a budget proposal that was offered and approved this week on a party-line vote by Senate Republicans.

Under the Governor’s plan, 62 counties will receive a total of $4.6 million, while the Senate’s plan would offer only about $2.8 million, or about 40 percent less.

“We have made great strides in controlling the West Nile Virus in recent years because we have aggressively monitored and applied treatments to kill the mosquito populations in the state,” said Governor Rendell. “As a result, we have seen a significant drop in the number of West Nile cases in the last six years, but that doesn’t mean that the potential threat is any less.

“Counties need resources to help them target locations where mosquitoes breed and fund the spraying programs that keep people safe. We’ve been able to reduce the costs associated with running this program, but if the Senate Republican budget is adopted, many counties will have to drastically cut back their work. That puts more and more of our citizens at risk of contracting the West Nile Virus.”

Governor Rendell said the decline in confirmed human cases is a result of knowledge gained in past years to better target mosquito populations and maximize available resources to control those populations. By comparison, there were 237 reported human cases of the West Nile Virus with nine fatalities in 2003.

In humans, the virus can cause West Nile fever and encephalitis, an infection that can cause inflammation of the brain and death. Most people bitten by an infected mosquito will never develop any symptoms, and only one in 150 with symptoms will develop the more serious West Nile encephalitis.

The Department of Environmental Protection and county staff use environmentally sensitive materials to kill mosquito larvae. The naturally occurring bacteria Bti and Bsph attack the digestive system of mosquitoes. Methoprene, an insect juvenile hormone, is also used to prevent mosquito larvae from developing into adults. These materials, while proven effective in controlling mosquito populations, have no effect on humans, plants or other animals.

This year, 62 counties will receive West Nile Virus grants. The five counties not receiving grants elected not to participate. DEP has agreed to contract for services in Lycoming, Susquehanna and Pike counties. DEP has also agreed to provide surveillance and control to Carbon and Forest counties.

Because standing water can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes, DEP Secretary John Hanger also reminded Pennsylvanians to do their part in the battle against the West Nile Virus. Hanger asked residents to remember one simple phrase.

“Dump it, drain it, treat it,” said Hanger. “Dump it if is has water in it; drain it if it can be drained; and treat it if it has standing water. It sounds so simple, but those three actions have proven to be very effective.”

For more information on West Nile Virus, visit www.westnile.state.pa.us.

The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out more about Governor Rendell’s initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit www.governor.state.pa.us.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Below is the list of the proposed 2009 West Nile Virus Control grants for each county:

    County         Proposed 2009 West Nile Virus Grant

    Adams                   $79,692.31
    Allegheny              $211,631.96
    Armstrong                $2,911.50
    Beaver                  $48,418.30
    Bedford                 $49,451.60
    Berks                   $56,180.60
    Blair                   $29,792.45
    Bradford                $39,250.01
    Bucks                  $191,288.70
    Butler                  $53,235.00
    Cambria                 $78,959.20
    Cameron                 $19,706.67
    Centre                  $76,813.27
    Chester                $125,175.50
    Clarion                 $53,085.67
    Clearfield              $68,175.00
    Clinton                 $35,518.15
    Columbia                $50,900.68
    Crawford                $91,492.00
    Cumberland              $68,218.55
    Dauphin                $115,276.80
    Delaware               $121,507.00
    Elk                     $38,010.50
    Erie                   $103,157.50
    Fayette                 $66,759.50
    Franklin               $104,418.20
    Fulton                  $31,050.00
    Greene                  $39,939.25
    Huntingdon              $21,034.30
    Indiana                 $86,037.91
    Jefferson               $59,000.30
    Juniata                 $47,968.00
    Lackawanna             $105,618.00
    Lancaster              $108,235.90
    Lawrence                $56,686.50
    Lebanon                 $67,210.50
    Lehigh                 $116,421.13
    Luzerne                $117,226.00
    McKean                  $52,532.80
    Mercer                  $49,527.50
    Mifflin                 $34,714.50
    Monroe                  $79,324.80
    Montgomery             $187,613.50
    Montour                 $49,481.42
    Northampton             $73,901.35
    Northumberland          $49,552.25
    Perry                   $54,537.27
    Philadelphia           $243,021.84
    Potter                  $38,604.00
    Schuylkill              $79,597.35
    Snyder                  $26,940.00
    Somerset                $60,170.50
    Sullivan                $26,229.58
    Tioga                   $39,536.00
    Union                   $51,913.55
    Venango                 $56,617.50
    Warren                  $42,629.30
    Washington              $53,527.00
    Wayne                   $44,140.00
    Westmoreland            $95,674.50
    Wyoming                 $58,412.00
    York                   $124,069.50
    CONTACT:
    John Repetz (DEP)
    717-787-1323

    Chuck Ardo
    717-783-1116

SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor


Source: newswire



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