On Importance of Vector Control: Zambone Letter to the Editor on the West Nile Virus

Published in The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Published in The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

August 10, 2000

  To The Editor:

New York public health authorities who have ordered the spraying of insecticides for adult mosquitoes should be applauded for doing their job, protecting the community's health, not criticized ("West Nile hysteria,"Editorial, July 31).


Those who think that spraying mosquitoes doesn't have an effect on the spread of disease should look at the Centers of Disease Control's reports on last year's outbreak of West Nile virus. After New York City initiated its spraying program, no new onsets of West Nile virus were reported in the city. But in the outlying counties that hesitated to embark on a pesticide spraying campaign, cases of West Nile virus continued to occur.


This is hardly a revelation. As you point out and as I as a native of South Jersey gratefully note, New Jersey has been commendably consistent in protecting the public health of its citizens through vector control since the early 1900s. Thus, New Jersey does not have to use the desperate measures that New York must. But New York should be commended, rather than criticized, for finally recognizing the importance of vector control.


The importance of vector control is a lesson the federal Environmental Protection Agency should learn as well, before it's too late. As you noted, Lyme disease is a significant public health problem in New Jersey, as well as in in most of the Northeast and parts of the Midwest as well. Yet, in a recent rule the EPA failed to list ticks as "pests of significant public 1 health importance." Inclusion on this list would permit individuals and public health officials to have more tick control options at their disposal.


The EPA's failure to include ticks on the list will have continuing negative ramifications for public health in New Jersey.


Jennifer Zambone Washington, D.C., Aug. 3

The writer is an environmental policy analyst with the Washington-based Competitive Enterprise Institute