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DEP Asks Pennsylvanians to Help Battle West Nile Virus
Date:6/10/2009

Warns Proposed Budget Cuts to Program Would Increase Threat of Disease

PHILADELPHIA, June 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With summer weather at hand, Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger today asked Pennsylvanians to make every effort to control mosquitoes and reduce the threat of the West Nile Virus.

Hanger said standing water can quickly become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. He asked all Pennsylvanians to follow the simple rule of dump it, drain it and treat it.

"Dump it if it has water in it; drain it if it can be drained; and treat it if it has standing water," said Hanger. "By taking these simple actions in your own backyard, you can eliminate those breeding areas and reduce your chances of contracting the virus."

Certain mosquitoes species carry West Nile virus, which, when transmitted to people, can cause West Nile encephalitis, an infection that can result in an inflammation of the brain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all residents in areas where virus activity has been identified are at risk of getting West Nile encephalitis.

This year, Governor Edward G. Rendell proposed $4.6 million to battle West Nile. Currently, surveillance and control efforts are underway in all 67 counties, maintaining current levels of funding. However, a Senate-approved budget bill, Senate Bill 850, would reduce next year's funding by 40 percent to $2.8 million, and force DEP to consider eliminating counties from the program.

In addition, the Senate plan proposed to slash an additional $50 million from the Governor's proposed DEP budget of $210 million to $160.8 million. Such a cut would set the department back to the 1994 level, hampering the agency's ability to meet its mission of safeguarding Pennsylvania's health and natural resources.

"Pennsylvania has a monitoring, surveillance and spraying pro
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
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