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2002 News from Mecklenburg County
 August 23, 2002


Charlotte, NC - The Mecklenburg County Health Department gets some national attention this weekend. Members of the Public Health Pest Management staff will be featured this Saturday morning on NBC's "Today" show.

"Today" producers say the story is about how communities across the country are dealing with West Nile virus, but will primarily focus on efforts here in Mecklenburg County. Recent stories done by local news stations and newspapers have shown the Department's Public Health Pest Management (PHPM) staff working nights and weekends and even allowing mosquitoes to bite them-all in the name of science.

"When we heard about that, we knew that was going to be our story," said NBC producer Don Lemmond, who helped organize the story for the "Today" show. NBC crews from New York and Atlanta came to Charlotte on Thursday to interview the Health Department's PHPM staff and to see them collecting and analyzing mosquitoes.

Environmental Health Specialist Mark O'Donoghue said the NBC crew wondered if he was "crazy" for letting mosquitoes bite him on purpose. O'Donoghue says he just explained the science behind the process and how it's one of the risks he takes for the good of the public's health.

Health Director Peter Safir says the national exposure on "Today" shows the rest of the country that the Mecklenburg County Health Department is a leader in protecting the community it serves and has people that are committed to doing whatever it takes to do so.

The "Today" show airs 8:00am -10:00am on Charlotte's NBC affiliate WCNC channel 36.

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