The Dallas, Texas, mayor has authorized the aerial dumping of insecticide over his city. He just declared a state of emergency over the allegedly looming outbreak of West Nile Virus, a virus spread by mosquitoes and has claimed about 1,200 lives over the past 12 years. Other cities in northern Texas have agreed to be sprayed as well. Texas health officials are saying that this year’s West Nile Virus (WNV) outbreak is the worst it’s ever been.
Of all the reported cases nationwide, 25% have originated in Texas, and half of all cases reported just this year have been in Texas. It’s been so bad that 17 people have reportedly died this year in Texas from WNV, 10 of whom were from Dallas county. Not to belittle those who have lost their lives to this illness, but does the death of 17 people, supposedly from WNV, really warrant the aerial spraying of insecticide on all of the city’s residents? The last time Dallas got sprayed like this was back in 1966 when about 12 people died from encephalitis brought on by WNV.
Some residents are concerned with the health effects of the insecticide on humans, animals and insects. Beekeepers in the area have petitioned to stop the spraying, saying that the insecticides are deadly to their bees. Bees have already been dying out in massive quantities for the past four years now, and many scientists suspect insecticides are the culprit. Dousing an entire city in pesticide is sure to cause some major problems in the honey-making profession.
State health officials have assured everyone that the risk to bees and animals is very low because of how little will be sprayed, which will amount to about an ounce per acre. Also, since the spraying will be done at night time, it minimizes the risk even more.
While they continue to try to alleviate people’s fears about the pesticide by telling them that there’s nothing to worry about, they’re also telling people to remain indoors as much as possible with the windows closed and rinse off all fruits and vegetables before consuming them. So there’s nothing to worry about, just stay inside and close your windows, and everything will be fine.
Does it really sound like an epidemic though? A state of emergency? Isn’t it going just a little too far?
People die from the flu. Lots of people. The CDC estimated that on average, 41,000 people died every year from 1979 to 2001. A couple years ago, the CDC changed the way it reported average, annual flu deaths, so now they claim that between 3,300 and 49,000 die every year. On average, over 200,000 people are hospitalized annually with flu-related complications. One year, over 430,000 were hospitalized.
We could take this even further. How many people die every year in car wrecks? How many die from pharmaceutical drugs? How many from lung cancer or alcohol-related illnesses? Or how about abortion? Obviously far more than all the WNV deaths over the last 12 years.
So, why aren’t they declaring states of emergency over the flu or anything else that kills lots of people? They could spray antiviral drugs over everybody, so that in case you have the flu, you wouldn’t die from it. Or maybe the CDC might “anticipate” a huge outbreak of swine flu this year and recommend that all big cities spray swine flu vaccine over everybody in order to prevent them from getting sick.
There are lots of rash things that mayors, governors or presidents can do when they declare a state of emergency. They can take your guns away. They can take your property. They can detain you without charge and hold you indefinitely (of course, they can do that now anyway under the PATRIOT Act).
We should take what the CDC says with a grain of salt. It looks like there’s no cure for their epidemic of blowing things out of proportion and spreading fear.