Starve the Beast and Feed the Mosquitoes

  The State Health Department and Department of Agriculture announced this past week that it has begun aerial spraying the pesticide Anvil 10 + 10 to kill mosquitoes, some of which may be carrying West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis  (EEE).  An 87year old man from Brandon died from West Nile and a Salisbury man has been hospitalized suffering from the virus.

Parts of Rutland and Addison county were chosen for spraying with the pesticide Anvil (not this Anvil) after the state found traces of EEE in mosquitoes in that area. The pesticide is neither benign nor guaranteed to work VTDigger reports. The Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture noted

“There’s a 10 to 90 percent rate of efficacy,”

so Anvil may not always crush its intended target. Therefore providing funds for careful and routine monitoring of the mosquito population is a key part of managing this growing health problem.

there is more
With federal funds for monitoring sharply cut back a difficult public health and safety issue for Vermont has been made more complicated. This is what starving the beast style budget cutting looks like at the state and local level.

To assess the effects of the spraying, the state will need to heavily survey the mosquito populations of those areas. Funds for such surveillance, however, are shriveling up.

Erica Berl, Vermont infectious disease epidemiologist, said that the state mosquito surveillance program is working with nearly a quarter of the federal funds it had a year ago.

“We received $190,000 last year, and we got $50,000 this year,” she said about cuts to the federal “arbovirus” surveillance program, which is administered by the CDC. Arbovirus stands for arthropod-borne virus.

In 2006 when the state of Massachusetts 2006 first used the pesticide Governor Mitt Romney had to declare a health emergency. Aerial Spraying of Anvil for mosquito control is much more common now yet it carries warning that exposure can cause vomiting, central nervous system failure and tremors. Anvil can also effect bee populations. Objections have been raised in New York City over spraying and recently a Massachusetts environmental group has is claimed spraying violated the Federal Clean Water Act.  

From news reports it would seem that Vermont health or agriculture officials and not the governor ordered spraying but who exactly signed off on it and under what authority isn’t spelled out. Governor Shumlin was out of the state for much of the week which I assume left Lt. Gov Scott as acting governor.  

Go to VT State Page
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