Daily News Archive
From July 7, 2001

County in Florida Fearing West Nile to Start Pesticide Spraying

Parts of Madison County, Florida are preparing to spray the pesticide Dibrom to control mosquitos, according to the New York Times (click here to read full article). Seymour Carruthers, age 73, is the first person in Florida to test positive for the West Nile Virus. Confirmation of this by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is being awaited.

Residents of Madison County, fearing the consequences of the virus spreading, are advocating as much pesticide spraying as possible. Adverse effects of the pesticide, however, should be considered at least as dangerous as the virus. For example, the New York State Health Department reported during the summer of 2000, considerably more New Yorkers became ill from pesticides used to combat the West Nile Virus than became ill from the virus itself.

Dibrom, the pesticide Madison County plans to use, contains the active ingredient naled, an organophosphate. According to the Extension Toxicology Network, acute exposure to this chemical results in numbness, tingling sensations, incoordination, headache, dizziness, tremor, nausea, abdominal cramps, sweating, blurred vision, difficulty breathing or respiratory depression, and slow heartbeat. Very high doses may result in unconsciousness, incontinence, and convulsions or fatality. This chemical also adversely affects birds and aquatic life. Click here for ExToxNet's Pesticide Information Profile on naled.

Officials should consider harmful consequences of pesticide use when creating such public health policies as those used to combat the West Nile Virus.