Public EEE talks this month
By Cristina Kumka
STAFF WRITER | November 09,2012
The state Health Department is getting a leg up on mosquito control for next year by holding three public meetings this month to inform residents and get more feedback from them.
Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen and experts from the department and the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets will discuss eastern equine encephalitis and mosquito control at three informational meetings. The first will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, at Whiting Town Hall, the second from 7 to 9 p.m. on Nov. 28 at Otter Valley Union High School in Brandon and the third from 7 to 9 p.m. on Nov. 29 at Sudbury Town Hall.
Two men — 86-year-old Richard Breen of Brandon and 49-year-old Scott Sgorbati of Sudbury — died from EEE in Vermont this year. Their deaths marked the first year the arbovirus was detected in the state and the first fatalities from EEE in Vermont.
The meetings are a proactive way for health and agriculture officials to address some lingering concerns of the public and inform them the state does indeed have a plan moving forward, according to Erica Berl, infectious disease epidemiologist with the Health Department.
According to the Health Department, at each meeting health and agriculture officials will review surveillance data, aerial spraying, other actions taken to control mosquitoes and plans in progress for tracking and control in 2013. The meetings will also bring to light what health officials know and don’t know about the virus.
Berl said the public meetings are a few of many that will happen before next summer.
“While this is still sort of fresh in people’s minds, we thought it was a good time to make ourselves available to answer questions people may have,” Berl said. “People also need to know we are working on plans for next year.”
Berl said that includes asking the state Legislature for more money for funding mosquito surveillance and testing in 2013, a sum that was cut by 75 percent over the last few years.
“We also want to hear what some other concerns are, so we can than think about them in the off-season when we aren’t trying to react to it (EEE),” she said.
For more information on mosquito-borne illness visit Healthvermont.gov.