Will West Nile Virus Spoil Another Summer?

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Jody Clarke, 202.331.2252


<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Washington, D.C., May 9, 2003—This Spring, public officials have again begun debating whether to spray pesticides to control the mosquito-transmitted West Nile Virus or to follow environmentalists’ advice to do nearly nothing to address another potential outbreak. Last year the United States experienced the worst outbreak ever recorded—with more than 4,000 cases and almost 300 deaths. The Competitive Enterprise Institute is warning officials and the public not to fall victim to environmentalist hype that pesticides are worse than the disease itself. 


“For decades, environmentalists have been trying to scare the public about pesticides, when in fact pesticides pose little risk when used properly and they are a critical part of controlling disease outbreaks,” says Angela Logomasini, director of risk and environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “Pesticides meet very stringent federal safety standards and are applied at such low levels that the public has little need to worry about them. Unfortunately, many communities chose not to use pesticides because of environmentalist hype. We may be seeing more deaths as a result.”


West Nile Virus is transmitted by mosquitoes; and, in addition to humans, the disease also affects birds, horses, and other animals. West Nile first appeared in the northeastern U.S. in 1999 and by last year had spread to almost every state.


The best example of the life-saving potential of pesticides involves DDT use to control malaria in the developing world. South Africa nearly eradicated malaria-carrying mosquitoes when it used DDT, but cases soared again after the country caved in to environmental activists who pressured the country to switch to other alternatives. The crisis led South Africa to resume DDT use, saving millions of lives each year.



Pesticide Risk Expert Available for Interviews



Angela Logomasini

Director of Risk & Environmental Policy


[email protected]



Seen and heard: The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, Capital Report (CNBC), and The Diane Rehm Show (NPR).


CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.