The CDC's Problems Are Deeper Than Mailing the Wrong Stuff, as They Proved in Dallas

Categories: Schutze

west_nile_spray.jpg
Dallas Observer
Why was the CDC so gung-ho to promote aerial spraying and ignore risks here?
Sloppy handling of deadly viruses at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, including shipping a deadly virus to a lab by mistake, has spurred calls for an independent investigation of the agency. The head of of it concedes in a New York Times piece this morning there may be a "potential for hubris."

But hubris may be the least of it. Based on our experience here with the CDC and its role in promoting aerial spraying for West Nile Disease, we need to hope whoever does an investigation looks at the cozy relationship between the CDC and Big Chem/Big Pharma.
After aerial pesticide spraying here in 2012, CDC experts rushed out a "preliminary study" showing the spray campaign had been achieved a 93 percent kill rate in the local mosquito population. Six months later the same experts quietly released a more careful study showing that local mosquito populations had actually increased during the spraying.

The second study nevertheless asserted that aerial spraying here had a significant impact on the overall mosquito population during the height of West Nile season. But when local entomologists drilled down into the footnotes, they found the study actually had found a possibility of no impact at all, a fact that CDC experts grudgingly admitted to me later.

It's not an academic point. There are risks in spraying. Dr. David Bellinger of the Harvard School of Public Health and Boston Children's Hospital has tried to warn officials here that the chemical cocktail sprayed from airplanes in Dallas contained substances that can have stealth effects on brain development in young children that may not show up for decades. He said these effects "do not necessarily bring a child to medical attention, but can nevertheless limit their futures by causing intellectual deficits and abnormal behavior." 

It's a point echoed by Sheldon Krimsky, a professor of urban and environmental policy planning at Tufts University in Massachusetts and author of several books dealing with public policy and environmental risk. Other experts told me that nocturnal airplane spraying is one of the least effective ways to kill mosquitoes.

If the aerial spraying doesn't really work that well and the attendant risks are considerable, why would the CDC be showing up in town doing traveling pedlar shows in support of aerial spraying, like the hurried-up 93 percent kill rate study that turned out to be so wildly inaccurate? I have no idea. Your guess is as good as mine.

I did notice that one of the CDC experts speaking in support of aerial spraying here is a former head of the American Mosquito Control Association, a private entity that provides grants to researchers and then forwards the studies they produce to government. I also can't help noticing that a "corporate sustaining member" of the AMCA is Clarke Mosquito Control, the manufacturer of the pesticide sprayed on us in 2012. That's not a smoking gun, but if I were investigating the CDC anyway I might consider it a whiff.

Let's agree to this much: If the problem is hubris, then the hubris probably doesn't stop at the shipping department. A general and hard-hitting investigation should look at the core culture of the entire agency.


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22 comments
schermbeck
schermbeck

You'd think the same folks that get worked up over black helicopters would get really mad over black helicopters indiscriminately dropping a toxic soup mix of chemicals with unknowable health consequences on them.

ehartmann11
ehartmann11

I am just SO GLAD that this discussion turned into a political rant about Obama instead of talking about stopping aerial spraying in Dallas.  Just SO HAPPY, I can't stand it.

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

The CDC, one of the few highly-respected agencies of the government, was doing just fine until the Obama people got hold of it.   They not only changed much of its mission, and were using it for political reasons. 

A center for communicable diseases - the CDC - is a very forward-looking agency that not only looks at current preventive methods of reducing diseases but keeps statistics, stays up with modern methods around the world, operates 24-hours per day to respond to physicians and emergency rooms, and was always focused on its critical missions....at least until Obama turned it into another  Global Warming cheerleader and PAC for chemical and pharmacological firms.


I also keep hearing how Michelle Obama keeps bugging them to be sales reps for her goofy diets and health theories. 


So, it's no wonder the CDC is making mistakes that could cost people their lives.  It is poorly managed these days, and does not receive enough oversight by Congress to offset the continued abuse the agency takes from Obama politicians, contributors, and certain people in the White House. 

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

I don't see the problem as hubris - although CDC employees may have that trait.

The real problem is lack of competent oversight.  The Republican congress, which is supposed to be providing that oversight, is unable or unwilling to perform that function.  It's the same with the problems at the VA, SEC, FCC, immigration and just about every other facet of government.

They're so focused on complaining that the system is broken, they can't be bothered with fixing or maintaining it.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

I can hear those hard drives crashing now.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

This sort of behavior is very troubling.  It is almost as if the standard procedure in government and business is to throw something out and then dare to the opposing viewpoint to prove you wrong.


The relationship between citizens and the government should not be adversarial.  However, it seems that it has gotten that way.


Some day a government agency will come out and say that there is a terrible thing happening and people will "yeah, right"; and the same thing will happen if a government agency says that something good will happen.


The story of the boy who cried wolf does cut both ways.

wcvemail
wcvemail

First! and first to thank Jim for digging down into the footnotes, and persistently keeping up with this story. Non-hubristically, too.

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@schermbeck It is not local folks who decide what chemicals to use to prevent West Nile Virus and numerous other mosquito-born diseases. They are cleared by the Department of Agriculture, the EPA, the CDC, and probably the FAA for all we know. 


That's why it's so expensive.  Washington, and Obama, just can't consolidate these activities under one agency with only one set of reports. 

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@ehartmann11 Obama's Executive Branch is in charge of the CDC, and it even has a White House representative as well as ongoing contacts with the Surgeon General appointed by Obama.


What part of this do you believe Obama is not accountable?

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

"I also keep hearing...?"

Taken as offered, that is hardly persuasive.

WhiteWhale
WhiteWhale

@bvckvs Note: The President of the United States appoints the director of the CDC and the appointment does not require Senate confirmation. The director serves at the pleasure of the President and may be fired at any time.  So if Obama was not happy with the CDC performance he can change the leader any time he wants.

WhiteWhale
WhiteWhale

@bvckvs We have a divided congress (Republican House, Democrat Senate).  The CDC is run by Obama appointee Democrat Tom Frieden. Frieden was appointed by Obama in 2009 and he has a mixed record as a nanny state healthcare administrator.  Guess Obama can not be bothered to be the chief executive.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@TPFKAP

The relationship between citizens and the government should not be adversarial. However, it seems that it has gotten that way.

This is the sort of statement that will get you on a watch list.

WhiteWhale
WhiteWhale

@JimSX Being both the establishment and the anti-establishment is a real bitch.  Why doesn't Obama do something about his CDC leadership?

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@JimSX 

That is unheard of.  A Democrat politician would never use a government agency for their own personal gain.

I guess that JWP is a closet Republican.

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @JimSX He's a closet criminal, according to the FBI.  But, we've all seen it for years. 


I notice they would get serious about him until Obama won re-election.  Now, Obama can pardon him at Holder's insistence, and it won't hurt him politically.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@TPFKAP

I'm reasonably certain it's not a good thing.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@TheRuddSki 

It is more of annoyance than anything else.  When you go for three years of automatic pat downs, you sort of get clued in to what is going on even though officially you are not told anything.  It got to the point where I would get to the check in area and go "let me guess, the pat down area?"  The clerk (I refuse to call them guards) would sigh and go yes.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @TheRuddSki My wife, who is a flight attendant, gets the extra security check when flying for pleasure and every time she re-enters the country whether it be work or pleasure,  the automated machine ALWAYS sends her to a live CBP agent to clear customs.  I imagine she somehow ended up on a list.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@TPFKAP

So all this changed once you changed your name from Paul? Did you ever find out why they insisted on fondling you?

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