The other day the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy presented the all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors with a thoroughly researched, scientifically documented report affirming what every real expert about Lyme disease has said for years: that spraying pesticides does nothing to reduce Lyme transmission rates, and that the pesticide our Board, in its mindless enthusiasm for pretending that they are “attacking” Lyme disease, has chosen to spray in our county parks is extremely toxic to honeybees and aquatic life as well as being a presumed human carcinogen.
So what did our Board do? Three guesses! Yesterday they voted $40,000 to continue the mindless spraying program.
The real reason spraying is ineffective is that even if it does temporarily reduce tick populations in chosen spots, ticks move, they are widespread, and Lyme infection — despite all the hysteria and hype from our Board and its very bizarre supporters on this issue in the local far-right religious GOP circles — is a rare event to begin with, so to have a real impact you’d have to wipe out the tick population — an utter impossibility no matter how many toxic chemicals you dump into the environment.
All of the experts note that the only real defense, and it is an extremely effective one, is personal responsibility, something the Republican Party is supposed to believe in as opposed to big government “solutions,” I thought. Using an insect repellent containing DEET and checking oneself regularly for ticks after walking in woods or other tick habitat is almost entirely effective in preventing Lyme disease.
And by the way, even though the Lyme loonies and the all-GOP Board and our local media keep repeating the myth that Loudoun has the highest Lyme rate in the country, can we say for the millionth time or so (not that it will do any good) that this is a complete fabrication?
Here are the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of counties with the highest number of confirmed Lyme cases from 2007 to 2011. Loudoun comes in at No. 40 in the nation, with a total number of cases that is one-quarter the number of cases of the top counties. (Adjusted for population, Loudoun’s incidence rate is even farther behind the top counties: it is for example 1/7th that of Columbia County, NY for this period):
|New Castle County||Delaware||2447|
|Morris County||New Jersey||2114|
|Rockingham County||New Hampshire||1886|
|Dutchess County||New York||1867|
|Hunterdon County||New Jersey||1831|
|Ulster County||New York||1695|
|Albany County||New York||1667|
|Sussex County||New Jersey||1659|
|Monmouth County||New Jersey||1541|
|New London County||Connecticut||1395|
|Hillsborough County||New Hampshire||1379|
|New Haven County||Connecticut||1377|
|Orange County||New York||1320|
|Rensselaer County||New York||1319|
|Columbia County||New York||1305|
|New York County||New York||1208|
|Burlington County||New Jersey||1183|
|Warren County||New Jersey||1153|
|Suffolk County||New York||1050|
|Mercer County||New Jersey||985|
The spraying project is particularly idiotic, targeting a few parks for no rhyme or reason — when as the LWC report notes, virtually no other jurisdictions, including in the hard-hit northeast, pursue such a scientifically indefensible policy, having rightly ascertained that it is a complete waste of money and resources.
The rest of the money Your Board is flushing down the drain on Lyme involves printing pamphlets that urge homeowners to spray their own properties, too — and otherwise simply repeating the same basic information about Lyme disease available for free already from CDC, an organization that also has the advantage of actually knowing what they are talking about.