Aug 242003
 
Authors: Jamie Way

Settling for less than requested to help prevent the West Nile virus epidemic from spreading, the state of Colorado accepted a check on Thursday afternoon for $500,000 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although Colorado had asked for $4.5 million to address the West Nile virus, the CDC couldn’t come up with that much money.

“We all have to understand that at this time of the year, it’s not easy for the CDC to come up with these extra dollars,” said Sen. Wayne Allard. “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart on behalf of the people of Colorado for your rapid response.”

The money was appropriated in a press conference at the Larimer County Courthouse.

“We’re aware that the state had requested a larger sum of money, but we hope that you will look at this as a very fast response and an important step forward,” said Dr. Julie Gerberding, director for the CDC.

Gerberding said she came to Colorado because it is the leading edge of the epidemic this year and also to visit the CDC facility, located off Overland Trail on the Foothills Campus, which has the lead responsibility for managing the virus.

Doug Benevento, director for the Colorado Department of Health, said that the money would be allotted to the Colorado communities that have been most impacted and used in the programs they deem most valuable in stopping the spread of the virus. Benvento said that the specifics on the how the money was to be spent were not yet known, but planning would begin within the 24 hours of receiving the money.

He also said that there would be a special emphasis on Northern Colorado, since it has been the most severely effected region in the nation, specifically mentioning Weld and Larimer Counties.

Gerberding said a comprehensive plan, including both spraying and practicing common sense measures such as applying bug spray, have been the most effective in stopping the spread of the West Nile virus.

Gerberding, whose husband contracted the virus last summer, hopes that the donation and the “Fight the Bite” awareness campaign will help the public understand that with the proper precautions, West Nile virus can be prevented. Gerberding said that the West Nile outbreak is a “manageable problem with tried and true measures.”

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