An Unforeseen Consequence of Zika

Remember Ebola two years ago? The disease that triggered paranoia and panic throughout the world. The epidemic started in Guinea, but was able to progress and spread rapidly to many countries, including America. However, hearing the phrase “Ebola” is like shopping at Aeropostale, outdated. The newest disease that you see on almost every headline or hear people nervously chatting about is the Zika virus. Just like Malaria, the Zika virus is spread by infected mosquitos. The Zika virus was first found in the Zika Forest, located in Uganda in 1947. However, it wasn’t a human who was infected, it was a monkey. In the beginning, no one was concerned that it would end up being a global scare until it started to spread to places such as South-East Africa, Philippines and Polynesia. Polynesia, being so close to South America, caused the virus to spread to a highly, populated area, Brazil. A couple of years later, the Zika virus crossed the Pacific Ocean and dispersed in Mexico and the Caribbean. Like Ebola, the virus has made its way over to the United States.

Florida, in particular, has been one of the states to have the most outbreaks. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) gave Florida two million dollars in funding for the Zika virus. The CDC also provided Zika prevention kits to the residents living in areas of outbreaks. Pregnant women are in the most danger and should be extremely prudent. If affected, their babies could have extreme birth defects, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome. Due to the extreme danger of the Zika virus and the effect it can have on people, the local officials in South Carolina decided to take charge after four residents were diagnosed. Using naled, a pesticide used for mosquito control, they aerial sprayed 15-sqaure miles of a county near Charleston. This specific pesticide is extremely harmful to honeybees, and resulted in the death of 3 million of them.


What’s the big deal? Why should we care? Beekeepers businesses are being destroyed. Juanita Stanley, a beekeeper in Summerville, South Carolina, had to walk outside to see her moneymakers dead in clumps on the ground. Her business, Flowertown Bee Farm and Supply, had to destroy all the hives, honey, and equipment because it was polluted from the chemicals. She didn’t even have to wear a bee suit because there were no bees left alive. She just fell to the ground and sobbed. Click the link to watch an interview with Juanita Stanly. Jason L. Ward, the county administrator, decided to spray the pesticide on Sunday morning because less people would be out. He also stated that in order to protect the bees you shouldn’t spray the chemicals shortly after the sun has been up. The chemical states that it is very toxic towards bees and you should only spray it when the bees are less active, which is two hours after the sun has risen. Ward, defending himself, states that he followed those rules. He also reassures his decision by asserting that he notified the residents of the spraying and forewarned beekeepers as well. Stanley disagrees with Ward, saying that they only warned her of truck sprayings, but never aerial sprayings. She claims that if they did warn her then she would have told them to spray at night, not in the morning when the bees are busy doing their work. Dr. Dennis vanEngelsdrop, a bee researcher at the University of Maryland, was astonished. He believes that the spraying of the naled was pointless because there are plenty of ways you can control the mosquitos without murdering beneficial pollinators. Accident or not, this was an incident that could have been easily prevented. This was definitely a learning experience that ignorance should never be used as an excuse, especially when it comes to harming your very own community. Let’s hope other administrators learn from this unnecessary tragedy.


4 thoughts on “An Unforeseen Consequence of Zika

  1. Hannah Morgan

    I think with any new virus, especially one with as few known consequences and as rapidly moving as zika, people tend to make drastic, knee-jerk reactions to the issue. If there are ways to prevent zika that don’t include spraying harmful naled, it seems unreasonable for the South Carolina officials to use it so recklessly. In a world where bee populations are declining rapidly, it’s unfortunate that they have to killed as a byproduct of combatting another serious issue. Bees are incredibly vital to human existence, and although I agree that zika prevention should be a key issue right now, I don’t think we can neglect any damage we incur on the bee population in doing so.

  2. dms6679

    I really enjoyed reading this post, and gaining insight to a new take on Zika prevention. I agree with the above comment though. I do feel as though our top priority should be creating human protection against the virus. Overall, I really enjoyed this, and liked how you addressed a different outlook!

  3. Daniele Patrice Loney

    This is a really interesting point! It goes to show that we as human beings are not very selfless. Yes, I agree that protecting people is a priority when it comes to the Zika virus, but like you said, there are other ways to control mosquitos rather than aerosol-spraying an entire community and harming privately owned businesses. A woman’s whole source of income is destroyed now. The effect that has on an adult’s life can be life-changing, just like the Zika virus is.
    I was a little more curious about the Zika virus and its origins when I saw that you mentioned it was related to monkeys, so I found this article to be informational and helpful in explaining that more.

  4. Francis Patrick Cotter

    This is an interesting take on Zika prevention. However, I feel like the top priority should be protecting the people rather than worrying about the bees. It’s a selfish thought, but Zika is a serious disease.

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