Our scientifically impervious board

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):

Chester County Pennsylvania 3342
Bucks County Pennsylvania 2755
Middlesex County Massachusetts 2585
New Castle County Delaware 2447
Morris County New Jersey 2114
Montgomery County Pennsylvania 2114
Rockingham County New Hampshire 1886
Dutchess County New York 1867
Hunterdon County New Jersey 1831
Fairfield County Connecticut 1750
Ulster County New York 1695
Albany County New York 1667
Sussex County New Jersey 1659
Worcester County Massachusetts 1630
Norfolk County Massachusetts 1612
Monmouth County New Jersey 1541
Plymouth County Massachusetts 1511
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
Essex County Massachusetts 1300
Montgomery County Maryland 1248
York County Pennsylvania 1228
New York County New York 1208
Burlington County New Jersey 1183
Howard County Maryland 1159
Warren County New Jersey 1153
Suffolk County New York 1050
Baltimore County Maryland 1033
Tolland County Connecticut 987
Mercer County New Jersey 985
Hartford County Connecticut 981
Cumberland County Maine 961
Bristol County Massachusetts 937
Loudoun County Virginia 935

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.

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