The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the US finally resorted to what it knows best, control an epidemic. This time they used a bazooka to hunt a fly literally. On September the 10th after more than 50 cases of local transmission of Zika in Florida, the CDC and the Miami-Dade county took the decision to drop Naled from the skies in order to kill the Aedes Agypti Mosquito which spreads Zika. Naled is an organophosphate insecticide. Its chemical name is dimethyl 1,2-dibromo-2,2-dichloroethylphosphate. Naled is stable in anhydrous condition and must be stored away from light. It must also be stored under normal pressure and temperatures. (Source: Wikipedia)
The drop has stopped the local spread of the epidemic and till date in October 31st, no new cases of local transmission have been reported in Florida.The Aerial spray happened despite protests from local residents, environmentalists and others. Naled is banned in Europe, but the US does use it in cases of floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters to control the spread of vector borne diseases. Its usually harmless to human beings in low quantities but is a chemical and this the concern.
There might be long term implications of this action but for the short term, victory has been achieved by the CDC. Naled quantity used was two table spoons per hectare. It usually washes away in the water.
Though my heart is with the environmentalists, the doctor in me says this was a necessary step. Zika today threatens the entire southern United Sates. With no cure in hand and a vaccine unlikely in the near future, prevention is the only way out. I would really like to congratulate the officials in CDC who got this right and went ahead despite the protests from the concerned citizens.
What intrigues me about this is the situation back home, where we do use fumigation to control Chikungunya and Dengue mosquitoes. Let me give you an example from Delhi. Karkardooma in North- Eastern Delhi is the epicenter of the disease. More than 1000 cases have been reported from there with fatalities running in double digits. That arwa is home to more than 7000 residents. Bad sanitation and open drains makes it very convenient for the mosquitoes to continue to breed. I am just curious why the Delhi government or even the center did not consider spraying the areas in the East- Northern corridor with something like Naled to kill the mosquitoes and stop the spread. Till the Municipal Council of Delhi (MCD) went in and cleaned the area, they could have given a temporary halt to the epidemic.
Am I missing something or did we not consider this ? I am always concerned about this lack of planning as far as disease outbreaks are concerned. Somehow we don’t have a strategy in mind and it comes back to haunt us each time we run into these situations. Lack of civil infrastructure is killing us and having no disease surveillance mechanism is adding injury to insult. A good example is how I described it in this piece for the News Minute.
Please do write back with your comments and suggestions on the same.