Mosquito story has legs!

A U.S. Army officer separates male and female mosquitoes to test for the presence of disease in the South Pacific. Creative Commons-licensed photo from the Flickr account of the U.S. Army’s Korea outpost.

Hey everyone. This is the story with the greatest traction I’ve had so far in my career: At least five newspapers and at least 10 TV stations across the country.

Originally I was just supposed to take something our sister paper in Dayton wrote and add in local comments. I took one more day, dug a little deeper, and got the following story: Ohio only tests mosquitoes in 20 (now 21) of its 88 counties.

It appeared in print at the top of the front of our local section, likely because I didn’t have the time to sell the story to editors for what it was. Certainly no one here realized just how interested the rest of the news industry would be. (P.S. – Writing the headline for the jumped section, copy editors did improper math.)

To summarize, the state provides free test pools, lab analysis and shipping to and from that lab… but less than one-fourth of Ohio’s counties have any testing going on for mosquito-borne viruses, which are drastically on the rise this year. Local health departments cite the cost of labor for placing and retrieving these test pools.

Yes, most of the state’s population is covered, because most big cities have testing. But huge swaths of the state, geographically, forgo the process. The state department of health admitted this could mean outbreaks we don’t know about.

A quick Google search seems to indicate that in addition to my paper, the following newspapers picked it up from the AP wire:

The Columbus Dispatch, The San Francisco Examiner, Houston Chronicle, Huntington (W.V.) Herald-Dispatch.

In addition to our TV station and radio station, the following TV networks aired versions of it over the weekend:

NBC4 Columbus, WSYX Columbus, WTTE Columbus, FOX19 Cincinnati, WTOL Toledo, WTVG Toledo, WFMJ Youngstown, WHLT Hattiesburg, MS, WCNT Greenville, NC

…plus lots of other smaller Ohio outlets (Coshocton, Newark) and lots of other subsidiary radio stations of those TV stations or newspapers.

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