The malaria epidemic is like loading up even Boeing 747 airliners each day, then deliberately crashing them into Mt. Kilimanjaro -- Dr. Wen Kilama
When I heard about the attempts of Western countries and green groups to ban DDT while thousands were suffering from malaria I became almost speechless with anger. . . . It is revolting that the people wanting to ban DDT pretend that they somehow have people’s best interest at heart and are acting for the greater good. Green groups, governments, and donor agencies have assumed the moral high ground and yet their actions kill. -- Richard Tren
In 1962, Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” mortally wounded pesticides and particularly DDT. 1n 1972 William Ruckelshaus, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, administered the finishing blow by banning DDT.
In foreign lands, millions of deaths from malaria continued unabated. Suddenly, a severe outbreak of encephalitis attacked Romania in 1996 and later Israel , Tunisia , Russia , and, in 1999, New York City . Identified as West Nile Virus, it has spread to every state. These are all mosquito-borne diseases.
Fever, headaches, weakness, pain in joints and muscles, are the symptoms of the recent third case of West Nile Virus in Woodbridge , Connecticut . Symptoms are sometimes not noticed unless they become infectious, so WNV cannot be diagnosed or quarantined. The number of Americans who get WNV has been increasing rapidly. “We may [only may?] need the pesticide [DDT] to fight the West Nile Virus,” according to Hoover Institution’s Henry I. Miller, physician and molecular biologist concerned with the relation between science and regulation. “We could see the largest epidemic ever,” declares Centers for Disease Control’s Dr. Peterson, director of vector-borne infectious diseases. (Anopheles and also Aedes mosquitoes are the vector for carrying malaria and WNV to human hosts.)
How did WNV get to New York City ? Philip Tierno, Jr., invents a likely scene in his book, “The Secret Life of Germs.” Five mosquitoes alight on passengers about to board a commercial airliner leaving Israel , where WNV flourishes. They join up with passengers boarding the plane for New York City . Once aboard, the first dines well on its passenger host’s blood, then settles down for a nap in his pants cuff till it and its brethren arrive at JFK airport. From there, they take off to find a wet spot to lay their eggs in Queens .
DDT can deal with malaria effectively, efficiently, and cheaply. While the fight to control malaria has acquired as supporters President Bush and the Gates Foundation, up pops the WNV. Last year, thirty-five percent of the 450 who got WNV had brain infections and 12 percent died.
DDT should be made available immediately for indoor and outdoor use to control mosquitoes, says Dr. Miller. International and environmental strictures against DDT should be ignored. The public should be educated to understand the “reflexively anti-pesticide drumbeat of the environmental movement,” which includes the USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development).
How to avoid malaria and WNV? Says the CDC, stay indoors from dusk to dawn. Wear clothes that cover all exposed parts of the body. Minimize mosquito-breeding standing water. “But no [CDC] mention of widespread spraying,” criticizes Dr. Miller. Why? Spraying, he reminds us, is greeted with hysteria by environmental activists who attack killing mosquitoes as “disrupting the food chain,” and according to the literature of New York’s Green Party, “These diseases only kill the old and people whose health is already poor. “ (At this point, we went outside and emptied two pails of water intended for watering plants.)
Among the organizations with excessive concern for the mosquitoes has been Pesticide Action Network. National Audubon Society had distributed 17,000 handbills urging members to support their position that “DDT should be banned throughout the land and banned from export,” noted leading DDT expert Professor J. Gordon Edwards.
Meanwhile, Singapore is under attack by another insect-borne disease, dengue, which is related to WNV, yellow fever, malaria, and hepatitis C. This disease is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, which appear to be winning, thanks to international travel “and global warming” (reports the New York Times without explanation). Singapore has 11,000 cases this year, Malaysia 20,000, Indonesia 68,000. This condition has attracted the attention of the pharmaceutical company Novartis. It has opened an Institute for Tropical Disease in Singapore .
Singapore has declared war on dengue (pronounced DEN-gay). Doctors must report new cases where two cases appear within 14 days of each other in a 150-meter radius. Inspectors scour the area. They climb ladders to check gutters, search gardens for standing water in potted plants or between leaves of palm trees. They enter houses looking for leaking sinks and disused toilets. Wherever a few drops of water can linger, mosquitoes can breed. They need only tiny pools in which to lay their eggs.
What to do? In Africa , bed nets and, for those stricken with malaria, therapy (an artemisinin-based combination, ACT). Committing $1.2 billion over five years, President Bush has organized the PMI, President’s Malaria Initiative, which last year sprayed 414,000 houses, provided 855,000 treated bed nets, delivered 1.2 million drug treatments, and trained over 8,000 locals on how to treat malaria. Still another substantial problem is that there is no infrastructure. How do you get indoor sprays and drugs to those who need them, asks Exxon Mobil official Dr. Phillips.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funding nine vaccine projects, two of them in clinical trials in Africa . There never have been any successful vaccines but, since Ruckelshaus banned DDT, lots of dishonest claims and lots of indictments. The fraud goes on as long as there are funds to finance it.
One quick way is for a respected and determined senator to introduce a bill to do that. Volunteers?
By Natalie Sirkin