The recent column on the Zika virus makes it clear that I misunderstood my source and for this, I apologize.

I note, though, that the mention of Zika was tangential to my general argument: that we, in Vermont, need to consider mosquito-borne diseases. Zika was an example of a potential future threat as the Earth warms, pathogens mutate and animals move around. Alan Betts, our resident climate expert, might have thoughts on this matter.

The column, in its urge to squelch thoughts of Zika, makes no mention of the real threats. Two people in Vermont have died of Eastern equine encephalitis although, fortunately, that pathogen was not found in Vermont in last year’s sampling of arboroviruses. West Nile virus continues to be present. The column, instead, seems to dismiss this issue, defining mosquitoes as a "nuisance insect." In the middle Otter Creek watershed, they are more than that.

I find such indifference to the health of Vermonters from an official who, unlike myself, is in a position to affect policy, to be troubling. I believe the Department of Health should take a greater role in mosquito control.

I repeat that these are my personal views.

Stephen Belcher


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