Zika Pesticide Threatens Bees

Every year, as human technology advances, and vaccines become more prominent a new disease reveals itself. There have been outbreaks of swine flu, and even cholera in recent years. This year it’s Zika…? According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the Zika virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitos, specifically where the Aedes Aegypti mosquito is present. This virus is related to other, “pathogenic vector borne flaviviruses including the West-Nile Virus.” The main reason Zika is so frightening is because it affects future generation, and is especially dangerous because many people can be carriers without knowing it. Theconversation.com says there has been a jump in defective births in Brazil from October 2015 to January 2016. In October there were only 150 cases of microcephaly in infants per year. Microcephaly is the condition of infants being born with irregularly small heads which is associated with incomplete brain development. Starting January that number hit 4,000 cases. Although Zika was discovered over 70 years ago the first modern documented case was in 2007. As Zika spread to America in 2015 more babies were diagnosed with microcephaly.

Many scientists are taking necessary steps for trying to find a cure for Zika, or to at least develop a vaccine. One of these attempts was through a product called Trumpet.  Trumpet is recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency as a means to eradicate the mosquito population of Aedes aegypti, otherwise known as the main species of mosquito that carries Zika. There was spraying of this toxin in South Carolina, after cases of Zika had been reported. While an aerial spraying is a good idea in theory, the toxin Trumpet is also harmful to a bees. Trumpet’s manufacturers label describes the product as, “highly toxic to bees exposed to direct treatment on blooming crops or weeds,” and say that it is “recommended that the product is not applied more than two hours after sunrise or two hours before sunset, limiting application to times when bees are least active” to limit harm to bees. With sufficient warning beekeepers could keep their bees in a safe area while sprayings take place. However, there was no warning. Millions of bees died due to poisoning in South Carolina and many locally owned beekeeping farms lost their businesses. One of the counties which was aerial sprayed was Dorchester County, where over 15 square miles were sprayed without informing some of the local beekeepers.  In Summerville, South Carolina a resident claims to have lost over 46 beehives – amounting to more than 3 million bees affected within minutes of the toxin being released. The New York Times reports that while officials in South Carolina apologized profusely and promised to warn citizens of the next spraying. A similar incident occurred immediately after in the Florida Keys.

While Zika is a serious virus that needs to be combated, the code of communication and official duties should not be shirked. Due to ineffectiveness in communication, the already declining population of honeybees fell millions more and many people lost their livelihood.

 

By ELIZABETH DASH / Contributing Writer

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