The "Mosquito-borne Diseases in Louisiana" conference is set for the C.B. Pennington Conference Center in Baton Rouge April 30. The registration deadline for the conference is today.

"Our experience with disease outbreaks the past few years makes it clear that we need to do something to address the potential threat of mosquito-borne diseases," David Boethel, the LSU AgCenter's associate vice chancellor, said recently.

Boethel, who is coordinating the LSU AgCenter's research and educational efforts aimed at mosquito control, said the conference is part of an overall cooperative effort involving the AgCenter and other public agencies and associations. It will bring experts from across the country to Baton Rouge to share their perspectives on mosquito-borne diseases.

"During the conference, we will be presenting accurate, up-to-date information for communities to respond to situations," Boethel said. "To stop the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, Louisiana needs an integrated approach that includes several components – mosquito control, public education and outreach, disease surveillance and monitoring."

LSU AgCenter personnel will be helping coordinate a variety of educational meetings across the state designed to introduce potential plans for mosquito control in areas that don't have such programs.

Those plans, known as LaMap or the Louisiana Mosquito Abatement Plan, are designed to help public officials take the first steps toward mosquito abatement programs by providing comprehensive outlines, budgets and other information that can be adapted to their needs.

The April 30 conference will cover topics including mosquito control and abatement, the current status of West Nile virus in the United States, successes with fighting such diseases, a new repellent available to protect humans, potential funding for mosquito control and the effects of mosquito-borne diseases on animals.

Among those participating will be State Epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard from the Department of Health and Hospitals and the LSU AgCenter's own medical entomologist Dr. Michael Perich.

DHH recently reported that no human cases of West Nile had been discovered in Louisiana so far this year, but birds infected with the virus have been found in various areas of the state.

"Our main concern now is that we are seeing West Nile activity throughout the state," Ratard said. "This indicates the virus is spreading across Louisiana."

Perich will cover mosquito-borne diseases around the globe and the potential threat to Louisiana.

"We have to keep in mind that Louisiana has a subtropical climate - the preferred climate for mosquitoes," Perich said.

Other speakers on the program for the April 30 conference include Roger Nasci, a research entomologist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta; Jerry Klum, a research entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Dr. Maxwell Lea, the Louisiana state veterinarian; Dr. Roxanne Rutledge of the University of Florida; Dr. Mike Strain of the Louisiana House of Representatives; and Dick Watkins from the Environmental Protection Agency.

In addition, a panel of mosquito control district directors from East Baton Rouge, St. Tammany, Calcasieu and Tangipahoa parishes will share their experience in fighting mosquito-borne diseases.

The program will conclude with a question-and-answer session in which all of the conference speakers will take part.

The conference and many of the other mosquito research and educational efforts are being conducted cooperatively by the LSU AgCenter, the state Department of Health and Hospitals' Office of Public Health, the Louisiana Mosquito Control Association and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.

The conference begins at 8 a.m. and concludes at 3 p.m. A $15 registration fee, which covers lunch and printed materials from the conference, can be paid by check or credit card. For more information or to register, go to http://www.lsuagcenter.com/mosquito. Those who don't have access to the Web can call (225) 578-4182 for more details or to register.

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