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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Insect-Borne Disease' Category


Beekeepers at Risk of Losing Hives after Mosquito Insecticide Spraying

(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2018) A study published last month in the Journal of Apicultural Research finds significant numbers of U.S. honey bees at risk after exposure to hazardous synthetic pesticides intended to control mosquitoes. With many beekeepers rarely given warning of insecticide spraying, researchers say the risk of losing colonies could increase. Advocates say fear of Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses could result in counterproductive and reactionary insecticide spraying that will add further stress to managed and native pollinators already undergoing significant declines. Researchers aimed to determine whether neighboring honey bee colonies could be similarly affected by aerial insecticide spraying. To calculate the percentage of colonies that could be affected, density of honey bee colonies by county was compared with projections of conditions thought to be prone to regional Zika virus outbreaks. Researchers found 13 percent of U.S. beekeepers at risk of losing colonies from Zika spraying. In addition, it was determined that many regions of the U.S. best suited for beekeeping are also those with favorable conditions for Zika-prone mosquitoes to proliferate. These regions include the southeast, the Gulf Coast, and California’s Central Valley. “[Considering] all the threats facing bees,” says study lead author Lewis Bartlett of the […]



International Agencies to Reduce DDT Use in Malaria Control

(Beyond Pesticides, May 8, 2009) The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), in partnership with the Global Environment Facility, have announced a renewed international effort to combat malaria with an incremental reduction of reliance on the synthetic pesticide DDT. As recently as two years ago, WHO was criticized for promoting DDT as the answer for malaria control in Africa, leading activists to call for increased use of alternatives. DDT has been recognized as a significant human and environmental health risk, including increased risk of breast cancer a wealth of other health concerns, and have built up in waterways and, in particular, the arctic. Now, ten projects, all part of the global program “Demonstrating and Scaling-up of sustainable Alternatives to DDT in Vector Management,” involving some 40 countries in Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and Central Asia, are set to test non-chemical methods ranging from eliminating potential mosquito breeding sites and securing homes with mesh screens to deploying mosquito-repellent trees and fish that eat mosquito larvae. The new projects follow a successful demonstration of alternatives to DDT in Mexico and Central America. There, pesticide-free techniques and management regimes have helped cut cases of malaria by over 60 […]



West Nile Spraying Put on Hold Until Testing Completed

(Beyond Pesticides, July 23, 2008) Aerial spraying for West Nile virus (WNv) over urban areas of Sacramento County, California has been halted for one week, after three days of spraying, in order to determine the success of the treatment. The results from a series of before-and-after mosquito trapping, dead bird testing and testing for infected mosquitoes are expected to take one week to complete before it is determined whether spraying should continue. The Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District is hoping that previous treatments were successful in reducing infected mosquitoes and that it will not need to do more aerial spraying this season. Assistant manager, Gary Goodman, indicated that the possibility of continued spraying remains uncertain, as new data from dead bird testing, mosquito trap analyses and from human cases become available. To combat WNv, the Sacramento-Yolo district has sprayed the pesticide, Evergreen Crop Protection EC 60-6T (which contains pyrethrins) over selected urban areas. Spraying for mosquitoes over urban areas of the county started in 2005, even though aerial sprayings over agricultural fields and from the ground using trucks or hand crews have occurred for a long time. In 2005 however, WNv began spreading broadly in northern California, and Sacramento […]



Researchers Looking For Alternatives to DEET

(Beyond Pesticides, May 28, 2008) Researchers have begun preliminary work to find suitable and safe alternatives to the widely used mosquito repellent DEET. Several possibilities have been identified, which repel mosquitoes for longer periods of time, but their safety for use on humans still needs to be investigated.Researchers, with funding from the Department of Defense, set out to determine what makes insect repellents work, and then to use that information in finding more effective ways to chase away disease-carrying insects. Insect repellents are used to repel biting insects such as mosquitoes and ticks that spread diseases such as encephalitis, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, malaria and dengue fever. Ulrich R. Bernier, PhD, co-author of this study published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences http://www.pnas.org/ and research chemist at the Agriculture Department’s mosquito and fly research unit in Gainesville, Fla., remarked that several of the new chemicals reviewed were “just phenomenal.” Using previous USDA data on hundreds of chemicals collected over 50 years, the researchers rated chemicals from “1” to “5” on ability to repel insects, and then focused on what the most effective ones ”” the 5s ”” had in common. They were able to […]



Health Experts Warn of Increased Mosquito-Born Diseases in the US

(Beyond Pesticides, January 15, 2008) Health officials have warned that a “widespread appearance” of mosquito-born diseases like dengue fever is a real possibility in the US. The disease is already beginning to make is presence felt with cases popping up in Texas, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Dengue, a flu-like illness that infects 50 million to 100 million people a year, has been growing more prevalent and severe as it moves from tropical regions into more temperate areas, where it’s now endemic, and along the U.S. border with Mexico. Many fear that as temperatures increase in temperate regions due to global warming, mosquitoes could extend their northern migration in North America. “It’s starting to creep up from South America to the Caribbean,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview. “If it can occur right at the tip of Texas, a disease which maybe people never heard of could actually appear here.” Drs. David Morens and Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases brought attention to the issue in a paper entitled Dengue and Hemorrhagic Fever: A Potential Threat to Public Health in the United States, published […]



Reclaiming Our Healthy Future – National Pesticide Forum Update

(Beyond Pesticides, January 8, 2008) Reclaiming Our Healthy Future: Political change to protect the next generation, the 26th National Pesticide Forum, will be held March 14-16 at the University of California, Berkeley. Register now to pay the pre-registration rate. James Roberts, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina and co-author of Recognition and Management of Pesticide Poisonings, and Jim Riddle, outreach coordinator for the University of Minnesota Organic Ecology program, have recently been added to the program. Previously announced speakers include Arturo Rodriguez (UFW President), Devra Davis, Ph.D. (author and University of Pittsburgh professor of epidemiology) and Tyrone Hayes, Ph.D. (UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology). Also, actress Kaiulani Lee will perform A Sense of Wonder, her one-woman play based on the life and works of Rachel Carson. Session topics include: Children’s health and public policy; Farmworker justice, organizing and consumer action; Building just and healthy food systems; Power of local activism to influence political change; Pesticides and the secret history of the war on cancer; Skills training sessions; DDT and malaria; Global warming and biofuels; Biomonitoring and pesticide drift; Lawns and landscapes; Managing indoor environments; Water quality and much more. Jim Riddle is outreach […]



Public Comments Needed: Fish and Wildlife Service Issues Plan for Mosquito Management in Refuges

(Beyond Pesticides, December 20, 2007) Responding to numerous requests from the public for more time to comment, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has opened an additional 60-day public comment period on a draft mosquito management policy until February 17, 2008. The original press release on the proposal, issued on October 15, 2007, and the Federal Register Notice (72 FR 58321-58333) outlines guidance for determining the conditions under which national wildlife refuges will control mosquitoes. Notification of the public comment period was published in the Federal Register December 19, 2007. The Service received 35 comments during the original 45-day comment period, which closed on November 29, 2007. Mosquito Control Districts in several states as well as members of the public asked for more time to respond. The Service currently allows some form of mosquito control by state or local vector control agencies under Special Use Permits on approximately 40 national wildlife refuges, most of them in coastal areas. An interim Director’s Order, issued in May 2005, provided guidance for mosquito management on refuges while a permanent policy was being developed. The draft policy states that the Refuge System will allow populations of native mosquito species to exist unimpeded unless they […]



Researchers Find Key Link in Malaria Transmission

(Beyond Pesticides, September 4, 2007) Scientists identified an important biochemical piece in the passage of malaria from mosquitoes to humans. If this link in the chain can be broken at its source””the mosquito””then the spread of malaria could be stopped without the use of harmful pesticides or costly drugs. “Mosquito Heparan Sulfate and Its Potential Role in Malaria Infection and Transmission,” published in the August 31 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, contains the findings of the interdisciplinary team led by researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The research group found that humans and the mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite Plasmodium share the same complex carbohydrate, heparan sulfate. In both humans and mosquitoes, heparan sulfate is a receptor for the Plasmodium, binding to the parasite and giving it quick and easy transport through the body. Robert J. Linhardt, Ph.D., professor of Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering at Rensselaer, led the team. “The discovery allows us to think differently about preventing the disease. If we can stop heparan sulfate from binding to the parasite in mosquitoes, we will not just be treating the disease, we will be stopping its spread completely,” Dr. Linhardt said. Malaria parasites are specific to their host, […]



Global Warming Brings New Unwanted Insects to the Northeast

(Beyond Pesticides, August 29, 2007) Entomologists have recently begun studying whether increasing temperatures will attract more insects to the New England region, as scientists have begun reporting the appearance of new and more numerous unwanted insects. The colder winters of the New England region have historically limited insect populations, but in recent years as temperatures have warmed, the amount and variety of pests have increased. According to the government’s U.S. Global Change Research Program, in its New England Regional Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change, “A warming New England region (especially warming winters) will support the introduction and expansion of exotic pests into the region.” Although scientists cannot definitively say that there is a relationship between increasing temperatures in the region and an increase in the number of insects, Vermont entomologist Jon Turmel, points out that ticks carrying lyme disease, as well as mosquitoes with West Nile virus (WNv) and encephalitis have been reported in the state. The Aedes japonicus, an Asian mosquito species, was first reported in Vermont five years ago. These mosquitoes can spread Japanese and St. Louis encephalitis, which are viral brain infections that can result in death, along with WNv. Reported cases […]



Organic Crops Contaminated By West Nile Spraying

(Beyond Pesticides, August 22, 2007) At least one farm in Sacramento, California, has been contaminated with aerial spraying of pesticides to control mosquitoes that may carry the West Nile virus (WNv). This claim is verified by lab results released Monday, which were carried out by an independent lab commissioned by a group against aerial spraying. Insecticides were sprayed across 55,000 acres north of the American River from July 30 to August 1. At least one organic farm in Citrus Heights was covered with the chemicals. Organic food is supposed to be grown without relying on synthetic chemical pesticides. Organic farmers are required by the National Organic Standards to prevent contamination of crops, soil, or water by plant and animal nutrients, pathogenic organisms, heavy metals, or residues of prohibited substances. “The district’s spray-everything attitude put my business and health at risk,” organic farmer Steven Zien said in a statement. The area is home to 375,000 residents and many are angry as well as concerned about possible health effects. Pesticides most commonly used across the country for mosquito control are neurotoxic and have been linked to cancer and other illnesses. Given the limited efficacy of adulticidal sprays (pesticides meant to target adult […]



Beyond Pesticides Urges Safer Mosquito Control Practices

(Beyond Pesticides, May 18, 2007) Mosquito season is here in many parts of the country and many communities are reaching for mosquito control sprays as the solution to reducing West Nile Virus infection with little data supporting reduction in risk. Beyond Pesticides urges communities to practice responsible mosquito protection by focusing on reducing breeding grounds and practicing safe personal protection. The first step in avoiding mosquitoes is prevention. Remove any standing water where mosquitos can breed around the home and the schoolyard, such as plant pots, leaky hoses, empty buckets, toys, and old tires. The best way to avoid mosquitoes, especially in the evening when they are most active, is to wear long pants and long sleeves. Burning citronella candles outside also helps repel mosquitoes. Since these two options are not always possible, mosquito sprays can sometimes be a good alternative. Many common mosquito sprays can contain toxic ingredients, however, so it is important to consider all of the option and read labels carefully before buying or spraying the repellents. Some Least-Toxic Mosquito Sprays Include: Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus- CDC recommends lemon eucalyptus oil repellents as a good alternative to DEET. The scented oil of lemon eucalyptus masks both carbon […]



A Tale of Two Colorado Cities and WNv Disease Control

(Beyond Pesticides, May 4, 2007) Recently published research comparing two adjacent Colorado cities shows an unexpected correlation between West Nile virus (WNv), mosquito control programs and human behavior factors. Northern Colorado experienced major outbreaks of human WNv disease in 2003. However, the neuroinvasive disease rates recorded were higher in Loveland (38.6 vs. 15.9 per 100,000), which had a more extensive mosquito control program and fewer mosquitoes, than adjacent Fort Collins. The study, entitled “Behavioral Risks for West Nile Virus Disease, Northern Colorado, 2003” (Gujral et al., Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 13, No. 3), calls into question the ability of spray programs to actually reduce the risk and transmission of the virus. Additionally, it shows spray programs may be giving communities a false sense of security, and re-emphasizes the importance of personal preventative measures in lowering disease rates. During the height of the outbreak, from July 26 to September 5, 2003, the number of mosquitoes (Cx. tarsalis and Cx. pipiens) collected per trap night was higher in Fort Collins than in Loveland, and the WNv infection rates of the mosquitoes were approximately equivalent in the two cities during that period. In other words, more WNv-infected mosquitoes were present in Fort Collins […]



On Africa Malaria Day, Groups Say No to DDT and Advocate Safe Methods

(Beyond Pesticides, April 25, 2007) Public health and environmental activists call on the world community today to respect life, protect children, stop hazardous pesticide use, including DDT, and adopt what they call “sustainable programs that attack poverty and the conditions that give rise to insect-borne diseases such as malaria.” Africa Malaria Day is commemorated on April 25, a day set aside by African governments committed to rolling back malaria and meeting the United Nations malaria-related Millennium Development Goals. Last September, the World Health Organization came under heavy criticism from public health and environmental groups when it announced its new policy to promote the use of DDT for malaria control in developing countries. Environmental and public health advocates warn that good intentions are in this case misguided. According to the Washington, DC-based non-profit organization Beyond Pesticides, advocating a reliance on pesticides, especially DDT, as a silver bullet solution for malaria protection is extremely dangerous. When the underlying causes of pest problems are not adequately addressed, then a sustained dependence on toxic pesticides like DDT causes greater long-term problems than those that are being addressed in the short-term. “The WHO is misleading the world on DDT, which is a known cancer causing […]



NYC Settles Mosquito Spray Lawsuit Filed by Pesticide Activists

(Beyond Pesticides, April 19, 2007) On April 12, a federal judge signed a settlement agreement in which New York City admits that the pesticides it sprayed may indeed be dangerous to human health as well as to the natural environment. For seven years, the No Spray Coalition, Beyond Pesticides and others have battled the City of New York in Federal Court in opposition to the Giuliani administration’s massive and indiscriminate spraying of toxic pesticides, including the organophosphate malathion. The settlement agreement states that, contrary to the City’s prior statements, pesticides may remain in the environment beyond their intended purpose, cause adverse health effects, kill mosquitoes’ natural predators, increase mosquito resistance to the sprays, and are not presently approved for direct application to waterways. Mitchel Cohen, the coordinator of the No Spray Coalition and an individual plaintiff in the lawsuit, sees the settlement agreement as a “tremendous victory” for health and environmental advocates. “Thousands of New Yorkers were made seriously sick by the spraying,” said Mr. Cohen. “A number of members of our coalition, including several of the plaintiffs, died from pesticide-related illnesses. Many suffer from multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) or asthma caused or exacerbated by the spraying. We are very […]



Suffolk County Passes Controversial Mosquito Plan, Officials Resign

(Beyond Pesticides, April 2, 2007) The Suffolk County Legislature approved a controversial mosquito control plan, 13-3, despite major objections from other county agencies, environmentalists, and members of Suffolk’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). The eleven-member CEQ advises lawmakers on the environmental impact of proposed county projects and while their recommendations are non-binding, the Legislature has generally followed the group’s advice. Several members of CEQ resigned after the bill’s passage. CEQ objects to the planned use of methoprene, an insecticide that interferes with larval growth. Objections were also raised over the county’s mosquito-control strategy of “ditching,” or altering wetlands to make artificial ponds where mosquito-eating fish thrive, a method they claim is unproven and harmful to the environment. Those objections, which CEQ passed in a split vote earlier this year, were ignored in the final approved plan. Members of CEQ also suggest that in the absence of pathogens like West Nile virus, the threshold for troublesome yet basically harmless mosquitoes should be raised. Prior to the controversial vote by the County Legislature, towns within Suffolk County also opposed the methods. The East Hampton Town Board and town trustees passed resolutions urging the county to abstain from using methoprene. Southampton’s trustees urged […]



Climate Change Tied to Crop Losses, Increases in Pest Populations

(Beyond Pesticides, March 19, 2007) Stanford University and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers are publishing a study saying that some of the world’s farms are yielding markedly fewer crops because of global warming, according to the San Jose Mercury News. Meanwhile, providing further evidence that the pace of global warming is accelerating, scientists announced last week that this winter was the hottest on record – and that surface temperatures around the world have been increasing at three times the rate they were before 1976. This warming most likely is costing the planet $5 billion annually in losses to three of the six major food crops, the Stanford and Lawrence Livermore researchers say. The study warns that wheat, corn and barley are especially affected, with 40 million fewer metric tons of the crops produced each year. For every 1 degree increase in temperature, the researchers say, crop yields drop by about 3 percent to 5 percent, and the decline is clearly caused by human activity. “Global warming is having real impacts – and we’re seeing their effects already,” said Chris Field, one of the authors of the crop study, and director of the department of global ecology at Stanford’s Carnegie Institution. […]