Miami Beach has been spraying the toxic chemical Naled frequently as the Zika virus outbreak covering South Beach has spread north to encompass two-thirds of the island city.
Global expert Dr. Michael Callahan says that it’s not only an ineffective strategy to combat the aedes aegypti mosquito which carries the tropical disease he termed “dengue fever light,” but it may be counterproductive by wiping out predators who might eat carrier mosquitos.
In an extended video interview with Dr. David Perlmutter (below), Dr. Callahan, who is the co-founder of the Zika Foundation explained that our officials are implementing a mosquito control plan appropriate for West Nile disease, but isn’t likely to tamp down Miami Beach’s public health problems:
We can tell you what hasn’t worked in the past with aerial spraying with this mosquito. There’s been a lot of money wasted in Singapore, Taiwan and Japan and several Central American countries, trying to control aedes aegypti with aerial spraying. It does not work. It is an indoor resident. About 60-70 of our total community population is indoors and it is not flying around at night when the aerial spraying controls. What you see in Florida is the adaptive plan for West Nile mosquito... Aerial spraying with naled or many of the other insecticides have been proven systematically to be less effective. For aedes aegypti you need on the ground spray, houses and yards and absolutely control breeding sites by getting rid of standing water.
The Harvard-based Dr. Callahan has practiced on roughly over 2,000 Zika patients over the years around the world.
Until 2013, there was no history of pregnancy-related illness linked to Zika Virus, and it was considered more of a children’s disease.
Dr. Callahan explained that in Brazil, children are taught the following ‘nursery rhyme’ (there is no other way for me to describe this) which helps explain to that vulnerable population how the aedes aegypti mosquito:
Black and white, indoor bite, silent flight and you’re safe at night.
The aedes aegypti mosquito is known for its black and white stripes. They like to find their way indoors, so regular use of repellant is a must.
The zika virus carrying mosquitos do not make significant noise, but the good news is that they generally do not bite during the night time either.
Additionally, Dr. Callahan explained that lemon eucalyptus repellant is a safe, natural product to use for protection against bites, for example Repel Eucalyptus which runs under $5 per bottle on Amazon.
The aedes aegypti mosquito prefers to bite on the back of the neck, though more than 65 percent of bites come below the knees as you can see below the video in a graphic by the Zika Foundation.
The doctor indicated that Zika vaccine is not only unlikely, but could carry even more significant medical risks than a regular transmission of the virus, no doctor could ethically rush one into production during an outbreak either.
Prevention of transmission is the most effective treatment today and for the foreseeable future.
“It is a highly visual public health intervention. It helps to promote a lot of trust that things are being done. But I am emphatic about this... for this mosquito and for this problem you need yard to yard control .
“That aerial spraying does a disservice by wiping out mosquito eating insects,” opined the world’s foremost Zika virus expert, “in some parts of the world, they count for 20 percent of the predation of the aedes mosquito.”
The Miami Beach City Commission voted last week ― after two weeks of intense protests which made national and global news ― to urge higher government officials to end Naled spraying and implement an alternative to the chemical banned in the EU since 2012.
Interestingly, Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood only had one single spraying with Naled, which also led to protests and then immediate cessation of the organophosphate neurotoxin aerial spraying.
Barring a last-minute surprise, Wynwood is expected to be removed from travel warnings today, after going 45 days without a new, local infection.
Now, it’s up to Florida’s public health officials to take a long, hard look at Dr. Callahan’s suggestions, before their “cure” for mosquito-borne Zika virus becomes worse than the disease.