• Despite Concerns, Florida Begins Spraying for Zika

    Are we on the verge of Zikapocalypse? Florida is ground zero for the Zika virus in America and they are beginning to fight it with an aerial applied “poison”. Floridians are more than concerned.

    South Florida began aerial spraying this weekend to combat mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus. The first plane carrying the insecticide Naled, sprayed in Miami Beach this past Friday at dawn, followed by a second spraying Sunday. Two more spraying’s are planned for the next two Sundays, but some Miami residents are still opposed to it, citing the potential harmful effects of the insecticide.

    Area resident Brik Viera told CBS News:

    “We are concerned that the Naled actually has more of a potential risk of creating the problems we are trying to avert than the actual concern with Zika.”

    The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) backed off on a plan in July to spray Naled in Puerto Rico because of health concerns the insecticide could have on humans.

    Some scientists say only contact with large doses of Naled could lead to major health problems and harm the environment. The European Union banned the insecticide in 2012, but the CDC and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), both say it is safe when it is used in small  amounts, such as those used in the aerial spraying this weekend.

    Dr. Bill Louda, a research professor of chemistry and biochemistry at FAU, told The Palm Beach Post until there is an adequate alternative to Naled:

    “We must balance risk versus benefit and not go overboard with the fear mongers.”

    According to Louda, studies of the chemical have mostly found Naled can be harmful in large doses, not in the small quantity — approximately two tablespoons per acre — used in aerial spraying.

    “If you throw 14 pounds of anything at a rat, the rat isn’t going to do very well. We either spray or we live with the mosquitoes. Right now, that seems like the only two choices.”

    The Zika virus is spread primarily via Aedes mosquitoes and infection can cause severe brain-related birth defects, including Anencephaly in children born to women infected with the virus during pregnancy.

    Florida has already reported 56 non-travel-related Zika cases this year. Eleven have been traced to Miami Beach and 29 to Wynwood, and the rest are being considered as isolated cases.

    While South Florida continues fighting the mosquito-borne disease, Senate Democrats in Congress scuttled a $1.1 billion Zika plan last Tuesday, demanding Republicans fund Planned Parenthood in any bill to fight the virus.

    Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, told The New York Times although efforts to fight the virus had produced encouraging results, the problem was far from over. McConnell said:

    “It’s hard to explain why, despite their own calls for funding, Democrats would block plans to keep women and babies safe from Zika.”

    Gov. Rick Scott released a statement Tuesday expressing his disappointment.

    “Due to Hurricane Hermine, I cancelled my scheduled trip to Washington D.C. where I was supposed to meet with members of Congress today on funding for Zika. I am disappointed a bill which included funding for the Zika virus died today in the Senate. The Zika virus is a national issue and demands immediate federal action. I hope Congress and the President quickly agree on funding to combat Zika so we can protect pregnant women and their growing babies who are most harmed by this virus.”

    In the meantime, Scott has requested more funding and put aside $26 million in emergency state funds for Zika prevention and response. Governor Scott stated:

    “Today, more than $23 million of those funds have been allocated to local mosquito control and Zika preparedness efforts in Florida,”

    Congressional leaders say they expect to approve funding for the Zika virus by the end of the month, although they have not released a plan.

    Kenneth Artz

    Kenneth Artz is a news reporter for The Heartland Institute, covering health care, energy and the environment, education, and budget & tax news. He has over 20 years’ experience in nonprofit organizations, publishing, newspaper reporting, and public policy advocacy, and has worked as a newspaper reporter for several papers in Texas, and as a writer/editor for the National Center for Policy Analysis.

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