US urges aerial spraying amid jump in Puerto Rico Zika cases

by | Jul 11, 2016 | Bocaítos | Comments

This week on local political issues in Puerto Rico that are borderline unbelievable: Naled spraying and its effects. You see, Puerto Rico is facing a Zika virus epidemic, and to combat the mosquito that carries the virus, federal officials are pressing the territory’s government to conduct an aerial spraying campaign. Except that the push has generated backlash among certain sectors in Puerto Rico, who are actively protesting the idea.

As many as 50 pregnant women in Puerto Rico are becoming infected with Zika every day, top U.S. health officials said Wednesday as they urged the U.S. territory to strongly consider aerial spraying to prevent further spread of the mosquito-borne virus.

The warning came as Puerto Rico debates whether to fumigate with the insecticide Naled, a proposal that has sparked protests in the U.S. territory over concerns about its impact on human health and wildlife.

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told The Associated Press that aerial spraying is the island’s best defense to fight a virus that can cause microcephaly, a rare defect in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and brain damage.

He said the island lacks an integrated mosquito control program.

“If any part of the continental U.S. had the kind of spread of Zika that Puerto Rico has now, they would have sprayed months ago,” he said. “This is more a question of neglect than anything else. … If we wait until children with microcephaly are born, it will be too late. That’s the problem.”

 Puerto Rico government officials are still debating the issue, with legislators holding public hearings amid a growing number of protests. Some health officials have warned of the dangers of Naled, with Puerto Rico’s health secretary saying pregnant women and asthmatics should remain indoors if it is sprayed. Puerto Rico has one of the highest asthma rates in the world.

This issue has highlighted how fertile Puerto Rico is for conspiracy theories. Social media is rampant with debunked and unproven allegations of the proposal being part of a series of experiments conducted by the US government on unsuspecting Puerto Ricans, and local celebrities are spreading misinformation on local media. The decision whether to actually use Naled is forthcoming. In the meantime pass by the comment threads for your daily dose of conspiracies, anecdotal fallacies and poor debating skills.