The White House announced plans to ask Congress for $1.8 billion in emergency funding to “combat Zika” as by “boosting research on ways to prevent its spread,” according to a Feb 8 article in the Wall Street Journal.
Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases are spreading widely, and making their way from tropical countries into the U.S., states AAPS executive director Jane M. Orient, M.D. These include dengue and chikungunya, which are carried by the same vector as Zida, the Aedes aegypti mosquito. “The way to prevent their spread is already known: kill the vector in areas where there are infected people.”
Aedes was largely eliminated in several Latin American and Caribbean countries from 1947 to 1962, said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. This involved a massive effort to eliminate breeding sites, and pesticide spraying.
Since then, the most effective weapon against the vector has been outlawed for most uses in most of the world, states Dr. Orient. “DDT was banned by William Ruckelshaus, as head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1972, largely in response to Rachel Carson’s inflammatory, scientifically inaccurate book Silent Spring. The result has been millions of preventable deaths, especially of African babies.”
Alternative pesticides are far more toxic and expensive, Dr. Orient notes. And they haven’t worked, as shown by the comeback of diseases we once hoped to wipe out.
“In the war against insect vectors of disease and death, we have disarmed ourselves,” Dr. Orient said.
Zika has been called a global health emergency, though much more severe, often lethal diseases, have not. The enormous publicity for Zika is because of the “link” to microcephaly (small head), a serious birth defect, in Brazil. So far, this has been seen only in Brazil, Dr.Orient stated, and Zika has been found in only 4 percent of infected babies. “Something else must be going on in Brazil,” she concludes. “Zika may not be the cause of the birth defects. But there are millions of human reasons for effectively fighting the mosquito, NOW, not decades from now, with knowledge and tools known for more than half a century.”
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in all specialties, founded in 1943 to preserve private medicine and the patient-physician relationship.