Top health officials warned Wednesday that the Zika virus threatens much of the Western Hemisphere, with Florida, Puerto Rico and Brazil in the crosshairs.
At a Senate hearing convened by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, three senior U.S. government experts urged Congress to pass a $1.1 billion Zika-prevention bill that has been stalled by partisan politics.
“We have made difficult decisions and redirected resources from other important public health activities to support our most critical needs,” Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told senators on a Senate Foreign Affairs subcommittee focused on the Western Hemisphere.
“These redirected funds, however, are not enough to support a comprehensive Zika response, and they divert funding from other critically important public health activities,” Frieden said.
The CDC chief criticized partisan congressional squabbling that has held up the emergency Zika funds.
Yes, and probably should. I inadvertently hit the “no” button, but intended “yes”. However, the more likely response will be spreading a genetic mutation that causes the mosquito’s offspring to die. It has been tested, and seems to work.
One thing we have to realize is that all human activity affects wildlife and other aspects of creation, just as the action of all life has effects.
One small example: We think Indians “lived in harmony with nature” when actually they affected the environment very significantly by burning off the grasslands every year, greatly altering the flora and fauna that would have been there if they hadn’t. In some places, they killed undesirable trees so food-bearing trees would grow instead. That affected not only the trees but the creatures that lived with both kinds.
Another: The buffalo greatly affected the composition of those parts of the country they inhabited. They affected the types of predators, small animals and insects. They very greatly affected the plant composition of the grasslands.
Humans also affect whatever nature would look like without us. Nobody knows what that would be, because humans have affected every habitable part of the planet for millennia. Some effects are good for some things, some bad for others.
And whether one poisonous thing is, on balance, a bad or good thing, is hard to know. There are lots of poisonous things in nature; some good for some things, some bad for others. Take, for example, the prevalence of tall fescue in my part of the country. It has a symbiotic relationship with a toxic endophyte. Grass eaters can tolerate the toxicity except at the margins. Humans can tolerate it because we don’t eat grass. To many insects, including locusts, it’s deadly. And it’s more deadly in serious droughts, which is when locusts are worst, and almost not at all when it’s rainy. Nature has its own balance mechanisms, and some of them are due to poisons.
I was having a debate with a friend on DDT recently. He works in food safety defense for a large firm. he felt DDT was safe also.
I brought up to him that one of the items sometimes mentioned that I’ve read with Rachel Carson is why didn’t she write about humans? She could have, but decided not to. One theory mentioned by writers at the time has to due to the problems writers ran into when writing about controversial items.
Some feel that DDT can cause temporary paralysis in humans. That of course is disputed. Overall though it is acknowledged that some chemicals can have negative health effects that can bring about temporary paralysis.
In Carson’s day some writers have written about the problems they experienced when criticizing medical officials and their treatments. What could happen is the medical community could lobby the government declaring an authors writings mail fraud. The Postal Office would frequently agree with the medical community. The mail fraud ruling would result in the authors books, newspaper, or magazine writings from not being distributed through the US postal service. Since the USPS service was the main way of distributing a writers work during those days, this would be a huge problem. it would end a writers career basically.
Authors could fight in court the USPS mail fraud rulings. Sometimes the authors would win. A problem though is that to win would take years of going through the courts, and a great deal of money would be spent. There wasn’t a guarantee of winning either. it was typically a big enough deterrent to keep authors from overly criticizing the medical field.
So Rachel Carson, to be less controversial and not banned from using the USPS, wrote about negative health effects on animals from chemicals. That is a theory I’ve read.
Then you get into the work of nurse Sister Elizabeth Kenny. Sister Kenny of course is credited as the founder of physical therapy. She was very famous and popular with the public in her life time, with a Hollywood movie made on her work with curing paralysis from polio. The medical community greatly disliked Sister Kenny. She was accusing medical officials of causing permeant paralysis to polio patients with their treatment of placing polio into braces and casts. As she was saying, and doing, exercising was the answer to curing polio.
Anyway, if not familiar with Sister Elizabeth Kenny, some on her life and work with polio patients can be read here:
Zika isn’t going to kill that many. But it is going to cause large numbers of horrible birth defects so it would be wise to take it seriously. Otherwise we could end up with increasing numbers of kids who are like this poor chap.
Not to mention a big uptick in abortions, which of course I’d imagine good Catholics would want to prevent as well. Best way to prevent Zika cause microcephaly abortions, prevent Zika.
Another difficulty in assessing any kind of toxin (or medication for that matter) is that the effect can vary tremendously from creature to creature.
I recall, decades ago, the big dioxin scare. There was a dioxin release in a plant in Italy and all sorts of animals in the vicinity died horrifically. There was real panic about that, and not just because of releases. The manufacture of certain chemicals inadvertently created molecules of dioxin due to differences in temperatures in mini-spaces within a supposedly uniform-temperature vat or batch.
Turned out the worst thing that happened to people, even with huge doses, was a certain type of acne called chloracne, which usually went away over time.
And too, further research revealed that dioxins were pervasive in the environment, particularly in the presence of fire. Your fireplace generates a lot of dioxin.
And yet, the animals in Italy died in large numbers and by awful processes.
As I mentioned before, ordinary fescue grass lives in symbiosis with a toxin-producing endophyte. Cattle largely tolerate the toxin. People are unharmed by it. But it’s deadly to insects. There are lots of those kinds of things occurring naturally, but they don’t affect all things the same way.
Depends on the maps you look at. In one, for example, it is largely confined to the south except for a spike running north of Kansas City. Kansas City is much colder and has a significantly shorter warm season that does, say, Springfield in southwest Missouri. And even more oddly, Southeast Missouri, which is warmer than Southwest Missouri and has a lot of swampy ground, is excluded from the aedes aegypti “zone”.
Some maps don’t include the “Kansas City spike”, and some exclude Missouri entirely.
The mosquito in question might not be temperature dependent at all.
I understand the concern. But you’re assuming Rachel Carson was right and later studies are wrong. My point is that we really don’t know how a lot of things happen or what causes them, particularly if something is caused by a combination of things. Most importantly, we should not leap to conclusions about effects just because something is demonstrably toxic to something or other.
When I was a kid, there were no bald eagles here, but quail were everywhere. Now, bald eagles are plentiful and quail are virtually non-existent. Why? Asserted DDT effects on egg shells certainly don’t explain that. (and some question the thin egg shell theory entirely)
Well, for one thing, hunting patterns have changed. People locally used to shoot everything they saw, practically. Now eagles are strongly protected, and even possession of a feather is criminalized, so nobody would shoot eagles now except out of sheer desire to break the law and assurance nobody would find out.
Quail, of course, eat seeds and insects. One theory of their virtual disappearance is that the increasing prevalence of tall fescue killed them off. The seeds also contain the endophyte. But there is also the “coyote theory” because there are a lot more coyotes in the country now. Who knows, maybe even the resurgent eagles and hawks kill and eat all the quail. Maybe toxic sprays? Well, probably not, since most of this area is pasture land and people don’t spray it. More cattle stepping on their eggs? Copperheads? Who knows?
Maybe nothing I mentioned above affected anything I mentioned. Fish and wildlife people admit they don’t know what causes what, most of the time. Why did wild trout come back in huge numbers? Change in ecology? Fewer fishermen? Greater care by farmers of creeks and springs? Fewer kingfishers or other fish egg eaters? Some toxin killing off competitors for the food? Nobody knows.
There are all kinds of inputs into the ecology, and for the most part, we don’t really know how it all fits together.
But we sure do know millions of people sicken and die because of aedes aegypti, and we know DDT is effective in controlling those mosquitos. I think this whole assumption about DDT needs to be revisited.
It’s terrifying for anyone in Zika areas who have sex. Millions of married couples, Catholics, have a real problem here. Imagine either millions of people aborting or using abc or a generation of handicapped people.
Zika is coming on at the exact time our society cannot define marriage or sex for that matter.