How about DDT vs. Zika?

Author:Orient, Jane M.
Position:HEALTH BEAT
 
FREE EXCERPT

THE ZIKA VIRUS has arrived in a trendy area in North Miami, Fla. The numbers are so far few but, unlike the more than 1,600 other Zika-infected patients in the U.S., these patients had no history of travel to outbreak areas or known contact with people who had such a history. So, how did it get here, and how do we stop it?

It did not get here because of "global warming" or "climate change." That dreaded apocalypse has been taking a break for at least 18 years. In any event, Zika--or climate change--will not be stopped by wrecking the coal industry as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has promised to do, thus creating severe shortages of electricity, as coal now fuels around 40% of our generating capacity. She and A1 "Inconvenient Truth" Gore may contend that your air conditioning threatens the planet, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying indoors in air-conditioned buildings to avoid Zika. Of course, shutting off the A/C would be even more devastating to the tourist industry than travel advisories.

People get Zika from a mosquito that previously bit an infected person, and the mosquito did not bite somebody in Puerto Rico and then fly to Florida. The Aedes aegypti mosquito flies only a few hundred feet in its entire lifetime. The ones that bit the Florida patients were hatched close to their home--and, by the way, the mosquito's ancestors did not migrate here because of global warming. They hitched a ride to North America decades ago in a load of used tires.

The infected traveler from Zika country was human. He probably had no idea that he was sick--80% of infected people do not. If we really were serious about keeping Zika out, we would quarantine and test all travelers arriving from affected areas and, still more important, we would control our borders to keep illegal entrants out. We have no idea where they came from, what diseases they might carry, or where they go.

If we do nothing, a lot of people will get Zika. Most will have no symptoms, and most of the rest will have a short, mild illness and become immune to future infections. The epidemic will die down when most prospective hosts are immune, but this is not the strategy we want to follow. A few people will get Guillain Barre syndrome, which causes a potentially fatal paralysis. Worse, some babies will be bom with severe birth defects, including microcephaly (an abnormally small head and brain).

The CDC-recommended strategy, with do-it-yourself...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP