Responding to a request for assistance from the Delta County Board of Health, Congressman John Salazar asked President Bush this week to reconsider his proposed cuts to for the West Nile Virus surveillance grant program. Congressman Salazar pledged to work with his colleagues to reinstate the funding cut and asked President Bush to rethink his blanket veto threat for all appropriations bills, which prevents Congress from restoring this needed funding.
Delta County relies on this program, funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to support county wide disease surveillance efforts. According to Delta County officials, there were 32 cases of West Nile Virus in 2006 including one death and they expect a continued presence of the disease in coming years.
The complete text of Congressman Salazar's letter to President Bush is included below.
July 14, 2008
The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Bush,
I am writing you regarding West Nile Virus surveillance - an issue of serious concern in Delta County, Colorado. In your FY2009 budget, you have proposed over a 50% cut to the Epidemiological and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) Infectious Diseases Cooperative Agreement grant program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Mr. President, I am asking that you reconsider your position and, should Congress be successful in restoring some of this needed funding, that you not veto this important appropriations bill as you have previously stated.
In Delta County in 2006, there were 32 human cases of West Nile Virus infection and one death. These numbers are particularly frightening considering the county population is just 30,000 residents. To prevent future loss of life, vigilant surveillance of the virus is necessary. Surveillance is conducted by testing trapped mosquitoes and diseased birds, which is a timely and costly procedure that relies on CDC funding.
Delta County officials expect the continued presence of West Nile Virus and a significant decrease in funding will seriously damage surveillance and preventative efforts in my district and across the country. Without additional funding, the Delta County Department of Health and Human Services will be forced to shut down their surveillance program leaving thousands of Coloradans at risk.
I have enclosed a letter from the Delta County Board of Health for your review. Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter.
John T. Salazar
Member of Congress