Early in September, Florida Health indicated that there had been 56 transmissions of the Zika virus in the state. This is in addition to the 596 cases of Zika which had already been identified in the area. Since the disease is evolving, Florida is looking to slow down the spread as quickly as possible. One of their solutions was spraying insecticide, although there are many opponents to this.
What is the Zika Virus?
While the Zika virus has been regularly recorded for the past few decades, it is only in recent months that it has ‘hit’ the Western World.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus is spread via the Aedes species of mosquito. While we have no full information about the long term impact that the virus can have on a person, we do know that it has a huge impact on pregnant women, with the virus known to cause birth defects.
There is no medicine which treats Zika virus, although it is unlikely to be deadly.
Florida officials decided that the best way in which to prevent further spread of the Zika virus would be to kill off as many mosquitoes as possible. To them, the best way to accomplish this was through spraying insecticide.
Previously, pesticide had been left on areas where mosquitoes were known to thrive. However, health officials believed that this was not enough. They decided to ‘top’ up these efforts with mass spraying of pesticides. This attracted the ire of residents. These protests delayed the spraying by a day.
Banned in the EU
The pesticide, known as Naled, being sprayed by the aircraft is a banned substance in the European Union. Legislators there believe that the risk of the pesticide far outweighs the rewards of using it. There, it is not able to be used under any situation.
Used in the United States Regularly
Naled has no such legislation in the United States. It has been used frequently since the 1950s. In fact, over 16 million acres of land in the United States comes into contact with Naled on an annual basis.
The pesticide is often used in areas which have dealt with a recent natural disaster. It is not uncommon to find the pesticide sprayed after hurricanes and floods. Its purpose in these situations is to stop mosquitoes from thriving in the area shortly after.
Health officials claim that there are no health issues associated with the use of pesticide in the quantities that it is being sprayed in. Naled breaks down incredibly quickly when it comes into contact with water. The droplets that remain in the air and do not kill mosquitoes will clearly disappear when they come into contact with the sunlight.
Since the mosquitoes that transmit Zika tend to be most active during the early morning hours, the pesticide was sprayed before the vast majority of the population woke up. This means that very few would have come into contact with even a single droplet.