Monica argues against complacency in mosquito fight

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 9, 2002


WASHINGTON, D.C. – After weeks of mosquito monitoring, testing and spraying, the number of human West Nile virus cases in Louisiana is declining. That does not mean it is time for local governments to become complacent, St. John the Baptist Parish President Nickie Monica said.

Monica recently represented local Louisiana governments at a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing, urging senators to support additional funding for mosquito control programs. He was one of seven people to testify at the hearing.

“I really believe every year the numbers have gone up at an alarming rate,” Monica said. “We (local governments) are at the frontline in this problem. We see the problem first.”

In 2002, St. John the Baptist Parish has had three reported human cases of West Nile virus. So far there have been no West Nile virus-related fatalities in the parish.

“We do have a comprehensive (mosquito control) plan,” Monica said. “We are requesting funding from the federal government. We are asking them to fund a portion of the research so that we can continue to track the virus in the area.”

St. John the Baptist Parish has already spent the annual $200,000 budgeted for mosquito control fighting the West Nile Virus. Another $100,000 is expected to be spent by the end of the year.

“I tried to express that we need a program statewide, even nationally,” Monica said. “An infected bird or mosquito does not recognize a parish or state line.”

Monica told the subcommittee members he supported the Mosquito Abatement for Safety and Health Act, an act that, if passed, would provide matching funds (up to $50,000) to assist state and local governments with mosquito testing and control programs.

The subcommittee is expected to review testimony from witnesses and determine if the matter will go before the full Senate.