Jewish World Review Nov. 14, 2003 / 19 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764

Drs. Michael A. Glueck & Robert J. Cihak

The Medicine Men
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Mosquitoes kill us; DDT doesn't | Should your health be left to you and your doctor? Or should agents of your federal, state or local government manage it? And should those charged with public heath responsibilities give higher priority to non-health agendas than to saving human lives?

Although we've often discussed these question in overall policy terms, looking at the health care systems in this country and health insurance arrangements, we're going to look at how political policies impact your health through the public health departments in federal, state and local governments. In particular, we'll look how the management and mismanagement of the outbreak of the West Nile Virus is impacting us. At issue here is not just their failure to control the disease properly. It's that the failure - specifically, the refusal to use the insecticide DDT to control the mosquitoes that carry the virus - is based upon discredited information and ongoing superstitions concerning the safety of DDT.

The West Nile Virus infects people and animals, including certain mosquito species, dogs, cats, birds and many other warm-blooded species. The virus infects mosquitoes when the suck up the virus in the blood of infected warm-blooded animals. Infected mosquitoes then pass it on when they bite other animals, inoculating new victims with the virus. Mosquitoes also spread other diseases, such as malaria, earning these bugs the dubious title of "flying hypodermic needles."

The virus first appeared in this country in New York City in 1999; before that, it infected people in Africa, southern Europe and southwest Asia. Since appearing in New York, state health authorities have reported West Nile Virus infection in 8219 people so far this year and 4156 last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The virus has killed 284 people so far this year, already exceeding last year's toll of 182 deaths. [, accessed 8 November 2003]

Donate to JWR

In most cases, West Nile Virus infection causes a flu-like illness that clears up in a few days. In some cases, however, it infects the brain and neighboring tissues, causing inflammation and swelling (encephalitis and/or meningitis) that kills the victim.

Since 1999 the disease has been spreading across the country, with human cases from 43 out of the 48 contiguous states reported to the CDC so far this year. However, only people with the most severe symptoms are even tested for West Nile Virus infection. A lot of people get it, recover, and never know they had it.

Much more information about the nature of the virus and disease is at,,, and

Although most human cases are not fatal, treatment for the disease is limited to supportive treatment, to help the victim survive the virus by reducing the severity of the complications, such as brain swelling. No antibiotics or other treatment directly attacks the virus. There's no vaccine either.

For prevention, the CDC recommends wearing long-sleeve shirts and using mosquito repellant during the mosquito seasons of the year, which unfortunately coincide with hot and humid weather in many parts of the country. To quote the CDC West Nile Virus web page featuring a photo of a smiling woman spraying herself "Spraying repellent with DEET on skin and clothing is safe and effective to reduce mosquito bites." []

Also unfortunately, the mosquitoes that spread the virus are being treated with kid gloves. The CDC does not even mention killing off the bugs with the safe and effective DDT as an option.

A group calling itself the "Safer Pest Control Project" recommends "ecological methods" for controlling the virus, such as draining puddles and other stagnant water collections where mosquitoes can breed. Unfortunately for this approach, draining swamps and even puddles can require applying for and being granted a portfolio of "Mother, may I?" permits from multiple government agencies. As Steve Milloy of writes " 'Ecological methods,' it seems, is merely a euphemism for saying 'Shoo!' "

Further, as Henry Miller reports in the current edition of the "Hoover Digest" [] there is a big difference between spreading large amounts of DDT "in the environment ... and applying it carefully and sparingly to fight mosquitoes and other disease-carrying insects. DDT's use for insect control would require relatively small amounts of the chemical."

It's time to not only drain the swamps containing mosquitoes but also drain the mental swamps in some public health officials heads. It's also time to use safe and effective weapons in appropriate ways, such as the insecticide DDT, to control mosquitoes.

Unfortunately for humans as well as birds and other animals, public health services wear political blinders when considering possible ways to control this disease. These officials seem to listen to environmental con artists, including those at the EPA, rather than scientists such as J. Gordon Edwards, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Biological Sciences at San Jose State University who has been telling the truth about DDT and exposing DDT superstitions for many years. [] CDC officials ignore recent scientific evidence on the safety and effectiveness of DDT in controlling disease-carrying mosquitoes.

In America, we're talking about hundreds of deaths this year from West Nile Virus; around the world mosquitoes cause more than a million deaths, many in children, mostly by spreading malaria.

Just as failing to remove fallen trees and other debris from the woodlands in Southern California aggravated the loss of life and damage due to the recent wildfires, ignoring scientific advances and failing to remove mosquitoes will only aggravate a possible West Nile Virus epidemic.

We agree with Milloy when he writes "Judicious use of DDT won't harm people or the environment. It will, however, kill mosquitoes — which is better than mosquitoes killing us."

We would also urge public health services to remember that human beings are part of the environment, too. And just like mosquitoes and wetlands, we got rights.

Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., is a multiple award winning writer who comments on medical-legal issues. Robert J. Cihak, M.D., is a Discovery Institute Senior Fellow and a past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Both JWR contributors are Harvard trained diagnostic radiologists. Comment by clicking here.


11/07/03: Avoiding the Schiavo Scenario: Readers Speak Out With Life-and-Death Comments
10/31/03: The Terri Schindler-Schiavo Case: Speaking out for those who can't
10/24/03: Want health service — go on a diet?
10/15/03: The War on Legal Painkillers: Sen. Kerry owes an apology to the more than 48 million Americans who suffer chronic pain
10/13/03: Medicare defrauds itself
09/19/03: Politics prevents women from learning about abortion/breast cancer risks
09/12/03: Medical mischief
09/05/03: Unholy medicine
08/29/03: The California Tea Party and West Coast Determinism; Voter anger coming your way soon
08/18/03: The outlaw prosecutors: A Justice and Civil Liberties Issue
08/08/03: "Toxic Teeth?"
07/25/03: Resuscitating the Constitution; CPR American Style
07/25/03: Drug reimportation: Bill translates to goodnight, patients
07/11/03: Costly Medicare Changes, Without Real Reform
07/04/03: The Painful DEA II: War on legal drugs ensnares too many doctors and not enough dealers
06/20/03: The Medicare Mess: Will President Bush call Congress' Bluff?
06/13/03: Diagnosis: School Insanity: A suit for sanity and school discipline
06/05/03: Soaring Medical Costs: Rational ignorance or rational enlightenment?
05/30/03: A Tale of Two Admirable Women: Jessica and Annika
05/23/03: Latest medical innovation: Cash
05/09/03: We feel your pain; Physicians have it too no thanks to the DEA
05/02/03: Medical Quarterbacking
04/25/03: CNN the "Conscience-Not Network"
04/21/03: Medical Miranda?
04/11/03: Are childhood vaccines shots in the dark?
04/09/03: The PETA Principle -- The lambshank Redemption
03/28/03: American conscience?
03/21/03: West Wimps or Wings: Treatment for Hollywood Hypocrisy
03/13/03: Worldwide schmaltz shortage looms --- all because of a featherless chicken
03/06/03: Legal metastases are killing us
02/28/03: Outside the Jury Box: Seeking Justice rather than a Lottery in Medical Liability
02/21/03: Workforce temperature rising; employer TLC in demand
02/14/03: Malpractice Insurance: They Reap What They Sue
02/12/03: Hawk, Dove or Groundhog: Diagnosis Critical List; Prognosis Uncertain
02/07/03: How about tax cuts for the "rich" and "poor"?
01/31/03: AIDS Bug Chasers
01/24/03: Libertarian moment or movement?
01/17/03: It's not just 'sue the docs' anymore
01/03/03: A pox on the critics; diagnosis sour grapes
01/03/03: If protesting is good for your health; then at least let's root for the home team
12/20/02: Obesidemic (obesity epidemic) or not?
12/20/02: Time for voluntary informed smallpox vaccinations
12/13/02: The real reason the state opposes homeschooling?
12/06/02: Conscience of a former conservative: Portrait of a political metamorphosis
11/27/02: Thanksgiving dinner hazard?
11/22/02: Time to think outside the box and inside the nucleus
11/15/02: The military should be protected from abusive environmental laws in times of war
11/11/02: Does Kyoto Treaty pose more harm than global warming?
10/31/02: Deep thoughts on Baseball, the World Series and Life: How about them Anaheim Angels?
10/23/02: "Pediatric rule" guinea pigs
10/23/02: Once the World Series ends, we need to create a Donnie Moore Day of Remembrance: Sports and mental health
10/18/02: Congress to senior patients: Do as we say not as we do for ourselves
10/11/02: Using pollution "scare labeling" to political advantage
10/04/02: The Great Asbestos Heist: Did Litigation and Junk Medical Science Helped Bring Down the World Trade Center?
09/27/02: The imminent rise of civic feminism: A far healthier national alternative in war and peace
09/20/02: A Ray A Day" to replace the daily apple?
09/13/02: Beware of celebrities hawking drugs
09/06/02: Avoid 9/11 overdose: Give blood to begin "September of Service," SOS
08/28/02: From Doubleday to strikeday: Baseball's collective anxiety attack
08/23/02: Should she or shouldn't she?: An alternative view on treating menopause with HRT
08/16/02: Cooking up defenses against germ warfare
08/02/02: Medicine, crime and canines
07/26/02: Lies, pathologic lies and the Palestinians
07/19/02: Medicare Drug Follies as in "now you see it, now you don't"
07/12/02: Anti-Profiling: A New Medically False Belief System
07/08/02: Don't procrastinate, vaccinate!
06/28/02: The scientific advances on the safe and effective deployment of DDT are being ignored, or denied. Why?
06/21/02: Sex and the system: In seeking healthcare men are different from women
06/14/02: The FDA, drug companies and life-saving drugs: Who's the fox and who's the hen now?
06/07/02: Medical Privacy Lost: A hippo on the healthcare back!
05/24/02: To clean up America's game: A (soggy) ground rule
05/10/02: Free speech is good medicine
05/03/02: Medicine's Vietnam
04/26/02: Attack on alternative medicine could lead to alternative lawsuits
04/12/02: Insure the 'crazies'?
04/09/02: No Time for Litmus Tests: In War We Need a Surgeon General and NIH, CDC, and FDA Directors
04/02/02: The scoop on soot: A dirty rotten shame?
03/22/02: Too many beautiful minds to waste: The first annual Caduceus Movie
03/15/02: Terror and transformation: Defense essential for health & state of mind
03/08/02: Diagnosis: Delusional
03/06/02: The great matzah famine
03/01/02: Is new Hippocratic Oath hypocritical?
02/15/02: Why the recent moaning about cloning?
02/08/02: Searching for Dr. Strangelove
01/15/02: Score one for the value of human life
01/04/02: Medical-legal-financial wake-up call
12/28/01: Who's afraid of a 'dirty bomb'?
12/21/01: End of medicine?
12/14/01: More heroes: Docs deserve a little credit after 9/11
11/16/01: Do we need 'Super Smallpox Saturdays'?
11/09/01: Why the post-9-11 health care debate will never be the same
11/01/01: Common sense good for our mental health
10/26/01: Your right to medical privacy --- even in terror time
10/12/01: Failed immigration policy ultimately bad for nation's mental health: Enemy within leads to epidemic of jumpy nerves
09/28/01: Can legal leopards change their spots: A treat instead of a trick
09/21/01: Civil defense again a civic duty
08/30/01: Shut down this government CAFE
08/23/01: School Bells or Jail Cells?
08/15/01: Time to take coaches to the woodshed
08/10/01: Blood, Guts & Glory: The Stem of the Stem Cell controversy

© 2002