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Our Visit to the CDC Vector-Borne Laboratory

April 30, 2024

On Wednesday, April 24, our CEO Dr. David Dyjack and Government Affairs Director Doug Farquhar visited the CDC Vector-Borne Disease Laboratory in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Dr. Sue Visser, deputy director for Policy and Extramural Programs for CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NEZID), gave us a tour of the laboratory and spoke about the diseases they are addressing.

The primary function of the laboratory is the study of vectorborne diseases, such as Lyme disease, West Nile virus, dengue, and the Zika virus, which are spread through the bites of mosquitos, ticks, fleas, or lice. There have been almost one million cases of vectorborne disease in this country since 2001, mainly from mosquito-borne and tickborne disease outbreaks. These diseases have been on the rise, doubling in the past two decades.

The Ft. Collins laboratory began in response to the hantavirus outbreak in Native American tribal lands in the 1990s. The outbreak demonstrated the need for a laboratory outside of Atlanta. With the strong emphasis on animal health within the Ft. Collins-based Colorado State University, the city became a natural fit for the laboratory.

The facility is located at the foot of Horsetooth Reservoir, which provides a beautiful setting with lots of wildlife that is close to the U.S. Department of Interior’s and CSU’s animal welfare facility. Deer and bison were grazing to the north, owls were nested on the grounds, and pelicans swam in the pond next to the laboratory.

We provided NEZID with insights into our abilities and network of state, local, tribal, and territorial environmental health professionals who perform most of the vector control work. Dr. Visser acknowledged the role of the workforce in controlling pests, as well as how for many this is just one of many responsibilities in their efforts to control vectorborne disease.

We look forward to working with CDC’s NEZID and its lab in the future.

For more information, contact Government Affairs Director Doug Farquhar.