The gang that couldn’t spray straight

It’s been vastly amusing to watch our elected county supervisors attempt to bluster and bloviate their way out of the fiasco they created for themselves last spring when they declared that they were going to apply the enormous scientific resources of the Loudoun County Republican Party to eradicate Lyme disease.

This involved (a) appointing a commission filled with assorted Lyme loonies and practitioners with a financial stake in overdiagnosing Lyme disease and claiming against all scientific and medical fact that this is a rampant and chronic illness requiring (their) chronic and continued care with unproven treatments and (b) hosing down a few parks with $20,000 worth of toxic pesticides in order (as Extremely Knowledgeable Lyme Disease Expert Supervisor Ken Reid  vowed) “to wipe out ticks” in the county.

In their haste to appear to be doing something, the Board of Supervisors approved the spraying of 9 county parks last spring while ignoring the scientific studies which show, totally unsurprisingly, that spraying does virtually nothing to affect Lyme disease transmission rates since (a) you can’t spray the entire outdoors and (b) ticks, and the deer, raccoons, and small rodents that carry them, have been known to move.

They also didn’t bother to look at the thorough recommendations of the Connecticut State Agricultural Experiment Station, which has produced the definitive guide on Lyme disease management, and which notes that even if you are determined to spray, it’s absolutely pointless to spray open areas since ticks are concentrated in the edge area along woods. They recommend spraying only a band a few yards deep along the edges. So what did Loudoun County do? Sprayed 200 acres of open fields.

The Board had clearly been thinking this would be one of those feel-good “action” policies they so love, all PR and no substance. Instead it was all fiasco (and no substance). Wildlife groups and the Loudoun beekeepers were totally caught by surprise by the hasty action and protested vigorously; and once again the county looked like a bunch of ding-dongs.

Last week our elected representatives were doing some really impressive  shucking and jiving trying to back away from their promise to the Lyme loonies that they were going to keep on spraying. The Lyme “commission” recommended a fall spraying in various parks. Chairman Scott York (R-Kincora) however was furiously backpeddling from his previous wily-nillyness, saying “The last thing I want to do is to go willy-nilly like last spring.” Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) likewise offered a thoroughly apt description of the random-spraying-without-a-plan he approved last spring: “We need a plan  . . . before we go out and just randomly spray.” Well, said, sir!

Of course for pure logical consistency no one can beat Extremely Knowledgeable Lyme Expert Supervisor Ken Reid (still waiting for that seminar you offered to provide the citizens, Ken, where you said you would answer our question about this disease based on your extensive research!) After first questioning why any of his fellow supervisors would be concerned about a “couple emails from a couple people” (Ken was low on prepositions that day) and wondering why the Board would second-guess the highly researched recommendations of the Loudoun Lyme loonie commission, Ken proceeded to show his concerns for a couple emails and second-guess the recommendation of the Loudoun Lyme commission by proposing that instead of using the toxic chemical pesticide the commission proposed, that “cedar oil” be substituted.

How about taking this to its perfectly logical conclusion, Ken, and just spray water? or air? That way you could still (a) pretend to be doing something effective even though it’s not, just as with last spring’s spraying (b) you could still let a $10,000 contract to a GOP-supporting pesticide company, just like last spring (c) you could avoid any of the harmful side effects, since cedar oil does absolutely nothing to anything.





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