Missouri has lost almost half of the federal money it has been getting to help it watch for cases of West Nile Virus.
The Centers for Disease Control have absorbed budget cuts, forcing them to cut funds to states like Missouri and maintaining high funding levels in states with much higher attack and death rates.
The coordinator of the state’s vector-borne diseases program calls the cuts "very significant." The Health Department’s Karen Yates says the state cannot afford to test dead birds for the virus now…and it has cut funding to local public health agencies to trap the mosquitoes that might be spreading the virus. But she doesn’t know if the cuts will increase any danger to humans.
Yates says the funding cut means the department won’t be able to spot early indications of the disease in an area…and not being able to spot those early indications will make it harder to warn people to take precautions.
Cases of West Nile Virus doubled last year, compared to 2005…after three years of declines. Five of those cases were fatal.