With the Death Toll at 11, Time Tells Us Why West Nile is Our Own Fault

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There are many possible explanations for why this year has turned into the worst ever for West Nile. A mild winter and wet spring played a part, and maybe climate change contributed as well, but no one's really sure. Except Time, that is.

Bryan Walsh has a piece on one of the magazine's blogs titled "Why West Nile Virus is a Self-Inflicted Wound."

Despite the forceful headline, which implies that all of this mess -- the disease, the spraying, the deaths -- is somehow our fault, the article doesn't marshal much of an argument to support the claim. It mentions the foreclosure crisis, which left an unusually high number of abandoned swimming pools, as a contributing factor and points to climate change as a reason tropical diseases are creeping further into places like Texas.

But things aren't as simple as just "hotter temperatures equals more disease." That's because there's another factor at work: us -- or, more specifically, our policymakers. The severity of tropical diseases is also a matter of whether or not governments are capable -- and willing -- to defend their populations against infections.

In the 20th century, the United States more or less wiped out malaria in its borders, so, by extension, it should do be able to do away with West Nile if it really wanted to. Dallas' response to West Nile this year has been admittedly reactive, but, short of dousing the region with DDT, the best defense is to tell people to drain standing water and wear OFF!, both of which officials are doing.

Walsh's broader argument is that the South is especially vulnerable to the tropical diseases that climate change is pushing northward, not only because of climate and geography but because many poor people live in the South. There are also a lot of poor people in places like the Republic of Congo, where a lot of people still die of malaria. Therefore, a lot of people in Louisiana and Alabama will die of malaria, too.

The real solution Walsh is proposing is to have fewer poor people which, come to think of it, will be pretty easy once those tropical diseases take hold.

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16 comments
regregan
regregan

Bats eat mosquitoes, put up a Certified Cedar bat house from Lone Star Woodcraft. made in America by Americans. They really work, check out their website for some great pictures of bats houses in action! reduce your risk to West Nile Virus and reduce the amount of pesticieds we spray where we work,live and our children play.

 

Guest
Guest

How about the Trinity 'river' swamp? Only 25% of the cases in the country were reported in Dallas county. Coincidence? I don't think so.

SoTrue
SoTrue

If people are bitten, they are immune for life. No matter what they get sick of in the future, when doctors don't know what they are sick of, they will test them and they will test positive for WNV. 

 

Am wondering how many deaths and illnesses of elderly were really caused by WNV, or if they already had it in their system, and that is why they are testing positive.  Leading to hysteria...

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Can't force folks to clean-up their property, can't force folks to quit over watering yards, can't spray pesticides.  We're doomed by our own stupidity.

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

don't care how much they sprayred i still hear buzzing in my ear

bbetzen
bbetzen

It appears that the City of Dallas cut the budget in such a way that they may have brought this onto themselves.  See http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/2012/08/dallas-mosquito-outbreak-due-to-budget.html and details as to how Will Becker's position was not filled when he retired due to the budget cuts and he had been keeping mosquitoes at bay in Dallas for decades using minnows.  He was gone, we had one drought last summer and too many of his minnows died so when rains came this year the mosquitoes had nobody to eat their eggs and they populated without hinderance.  ...... 

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

I wonder if Time will come out with an article about how malaria is caused by the odors coming from swamps ...

 

Face it, West Nile is a form of encephalitis for which we have only recently been exposed to and an immunity has not developed.

 

Why does no one talk about other places in the world where this virus exists and what the mortality rates are from it in those locations?

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

It's simple -- we have angered Gaia by not living like dirty hippies, and therefore we had it coming.

 

It's pretty much identical to Baptists, only smellier.

tanijoy
tanijoy

@Dallas_Observer isn't the death toll 16?

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

 @regregan Not long ago one of the city council members recommended this and was hooted down.   

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @SoTrue interesting.  I understand they don't really know if one's suffering from West Nile acutely or not.  Whatever, if these diseases are gonna kill off a lot of poor people, hitting these few geriatrics ain't gonna cull shit.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

 @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul Because that would not contribute to scaring and manipulating the masses and it would require actual work and analysis, which is haaaaarrrrd.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk

 @everlastingphelps In your own funny way, you've hit the nail squarely on the head, ELP.

 

We're like a toe-fungus on Mother Earth, and one of these days she's just gonna' shake us off when the irritation gets too bothersome to endure.

 

Also, I've never smelled a Baptist, so I can't comment on that part of your report. I just assumed they all smelled like Ben-Gay.

gmit
gmit

 @TheCredibleHulk  Most Baptists smell like Vodka, because they think no one else can smell them, of course it was purchased three counties over 

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