Malathion-West Nile and lives

Michael Gochfeld gochfeld at
Thu Jun 21 23:05:55 EDT 2001

Paul was very careful in the following statement to use the word 

Paul Wrote: " For example, for the past two years NABA has protested the 
Malathion spraying over New York City on its website - spraying that 
potentially has saved many human lives."

As the author of the article on West Nile in AMERICAN BUTTERFLIES which 
pointed out that aerial spraying of insecticides for adult mosquitoes 
should have been the last, rather than first line of defense, I feel 
obliged to answer this. 

First of all, the protestations were against the aerial spraying in 
1999, rather than against the larviciding and targetted ground spraying 
in 2000.  

Because neither NYC nor the New York counties did any mosquito 
surveillance before hand (much less virus isolations), nor evaluation of 
knockdown afterwards, there is no evidence that the spraying of 
malathion (or also of Scourge and Anvil) potentially saved ANY human 
lives, much less "many human lives".  

Clearly, in 2000 when surveillance programs were in place, there was 
much less spraying AND much less human disease despite abundant 
evidence of virus activity in birds and mosquitoes.  

I will share with the list a draft of an editorial I am preparing 
showing how much better the public health community (and the media) are 
dealing with West Nile in 2001 than in 1999.  

PS: My community is planning to do some adulticiding (an unpleasant 
neologism) for mosquitos where WNV has been isolated in the past week. 
There will be relatively little opposition to this program. 

NYC, in its arrogance, completely ignored impact on non-target species.

Mike Gochfeld

Michael Gochfeld MD, PhD
Professor of Environmental and Community Medicine
UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
EOHSI Building---170 Frelinghuysen Road
Piscataway, NJ 08854  USA
Phone 732-445-0123 x627   fax 732-445-0130
"gochfeld at"


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