September 9, 2008

Jennifer Tanner
Communications Specialist

Rep. Kingston Visits VSU Mosquito Lab

VALDOSTA - On Thursday, Aug. 21, U.S. Representative Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) met with Valdosta State University administrators and Dr. Mark Blackmore, professor of biology, in his research lab to talk about mosquitoes, malaria control strategies and proposed funding.

Rep. Kingston is the ranking minority member of the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture subcommittee, which allocates funding for West Nile virus surveillance and laboratory capacity for monitoring diseases like WNV. Blackmore said he began communicating with the representative in Washington, D.C. regarding his research earlier this summer.

Kingston was invited to visit VSU’s lab to experience the research first-hand and see how it links to national efforts. Kingston said he found his trip to be inspirational. He was not only impressed with the state-of-the-art equipment in the lab but also the number of students interested in the research.

“There were so many sharp young students who were studying about different types of mosquitoes in our area, how to test for West Nile disease and ways to combat it,” Kingston said. “VSU is relevant to the national and international mosquito research. It was great to get a chance to see inside.”

Since 2001, Blackmore and his students have collected, counted, and sorted mosquitoes caught in the area before sending specimens to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Survey lab to test for disease. His program is the only one in Southeast Georgia that monitors mosquito populations. Maintenance for Blackmore's lab is level-funded by the federal government, as well as the Valdosta and Lowndes County through the LC Board of Health. In fact, the program's FY 2009 grant was recently approved. Call Blackmore at 259-5114 for more information.

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