NEW YORK (WWTI) — Top lawmakers are calling for increased funding to combat viruses spread by mosquitoes.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-NY, is calling for an increase in annual funding for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vector-Borne Diseases program as New York is continuing to see an increase in mosquito populations. Sen. Schumer specifically claimed that this is to address the past summer, as it was one of the worst mosquito seasons across New York State.
“Ask any outdoor diner about the mosquitos this summer, and you’ll feel a resounding itch,” Senator Schumer said in a press release. “This is actually one of the worst mosquito seasons in recent memory with a record number of the bugs plaguing communities across New York. From the city to Buffalo and all throughout New York State.”
Schumer then went on to reference the presence of the West Nile virus in New York State. West Nile is a potentially deadly mosquito-borne virus, which dozens of mosquito samples have tests positive for the virus in the state. A case of the virus was confirmed in an Upstate New York resident this past summer.
“Even more concerning, pools of the potentially-deadly mosquito-borne disease, West Nile Virus, continue to grow, and this could last well into Fall because of a very wet summer and climate change,” Sen. Schumer added.
Sen. Schumer also explained that to survey, educate and mitigate for preventing these viruses across New York, increased funding from the Environmental Protection Agency and CDC is required. He then announced a two-prong plan to ensure resources from the EPA and to increase funding from the CDC.
Specifically, Schumer has requested a 61% increase in annual funding for the CDC’s Vector-Borner Diseases programs. He is pushing to support two key programs which include the CDC Regional Centers of Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases and CDC Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity grant program. He said this would increase the coordination between academic institutions and state and local departments.
Additionally, Schumer wrote a letter to the EPA to ensure that New York officials have access to effective mosquito control tools. His full letter can be read below:
Dear Administrator Regan:
I write today to urge the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to hold a call or virtual meeting with New York officials to ensure they have access to effective non-chemical mosquito control tools. As you are likely aware, New York State is seeing an uptick in mosquitos this year, so it is vital that localities on the front lines have the necessary tools and information to protect public health and address the growing mosquito population.
The EPA has historically provided state and local mosquito control departments with tools to control mosquito populations, and with this year’s mosquitos becoming a larger nuisance than normal, we need EPA’s help. The information provided by the EPA has been essential for state and local governments as they play a critical role in providing information through their outreach programs. Additionally, the EPA provides nonchemical effective mosquito control tools that they can use without posing an unreasonable risk to human health and the environment and these are more important now as localities carry out prevention and vector population management. Mosquito population management by state and local agencies is a key component to protecting the public from mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis, and chikungunya. This is particularly important this year as New York City Health Department has identified a record-breaking number of West Nile virus-positive mosquito pools throughout the five boroughs, already surpassing the previous high recorded in 2018. Furthermore, CDC has identified 7 confirmed West Nile cases in New York State as of September 7, 2021. Beyond the state and local entities, the public plays an essential role in decelerating mosquito population growth through practices that eliminate potential breeding habitats such as standing water around the home.
With state and local entities, as well as the public, having a role in mosquito control, it is crucial that the EPA ensure this information is widely accessible. While I appreciate the EPA making this critical information accessible on their website, I believe it is imperative that the EPA host a virtual meeting with state and local mosquito control departments to ensure they have the most effective control tools and are able to adequately convey this information to the public.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my staff with any questions you may have.
Sincerely,U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-NY