Thursday, August 23, 2012

It may not be political, but it's just as ridiculous as partisan politics.

Quit with the West Nile hysteria.

If every West Nile death actually occurred in Texas (which it has not), that would be 41 people this year out of a population of 25MM, or .000000164%.  The actual number as of this posting is 17 people dead.  As a national statistic of 41 deaths in 8 months given a population of 310MM it's even more laughable to be on the radar.  More people die from the flu in almost any given week than have died from West Nile this entire year. (Roughly 25,000 annually, over 200,000 hospitalized annually.)  More mothers die in labor (800-900/yr).  More pedestrians are hit by cars and killed (4300 in 2010).  More people are shot and killed (35K-40K/yr).  More people die of alcohol poisoning (estimates run around 1200 annually).  I do not mean this to intimate that a death from something such as West Nile is not horrific and horrible.  But to suggest that this is something for which everyone need to gird their loins is irresponsible.

West Nile is not statistically significant. It isn't going to mutate and be transmitted in another way, so there's no reasonable chance for an epidemic. Yet Dallas and Tarrant counties here in Texas have commmitted tens of thousands of dollars to spraying insecticides, which will probably not prove effective (mosquitoes breed too readily) and will harm the environment.  Spraying pesticides kills everything: bees, dragonflies (which eat the mosquitoes), and beneficial insects.  The long-term effects of DEET are still unknown, and while it could turn out to be perfectly safe there is a reasonable possibility that it will have long-term negative effects, such as increased risk of cancer.  DEET-infused mosquito spray melts plastic and strips nail polish.  Generally speaking, that's not desirable in a topical spray that coats your body.

Hysteria over West Nile is leading to "cures" that are far worse than the problem, which in reality really isn't that big of one.

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