Updated Mon, Apr 22, 2013 1:25 pm
The Ohio Department of Health will no longer test mosquitoes for West Nile virus.
A spokeswoman said the testing program had a yearly budget of about $265,000, but Ohio is stopping that work because of a federal funding cut.
"They have been slowly diminishing the service available through the state health department," Charles Hammer, the administrator of the Athens City-County Health Department said. "I'm not at all surprised by this. It is part of a much longer trend."
Some local agencies trapped mosquitoes and used the state to conduct or confirm initial tests.
Hammer said while the testing service will be missed, the department will be able to target their mosquito control efforts based on mosquito collection efforts.
He also said if needed the department has other labs that can do the testing but it will cost money.
"But that lab work is gonna have to be something farmed out to a private lab or to a lab that is going to cost us money if we decide to get that done," he said.
Hammer said the test usually cost about $25.
Columbus plans its own testing to guide efforts to contain the virus and the mosquito population. Surrounding Franklin County plans to use a less accurate test, and the Delaware General Health District plans to have its mosquitoes tested in Pennsylvania.
Licking County's health commissioner says it can't afford testing and will rely on educated guesswork about where to spray to kill the pests.
Some counties don't test for West Nile virus.