More aggressive measures sought

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 5, 2002

The best measures in health care are preventative. As the West Nile virus enters our lives, we must emphasize again the need to stop it at the source by destroying the breeding areas of the mosquitoes that carry it.

Birds with the virus have been found in Andalusia and Opp. The virus is no longer something that happens to someone else - it is here, and someone will get it, and if we are not more aggressive in our attack on the mosquito breeding grounds, someone will die from it.

The city assures us it has stepped up its spraying, but that is not enough. There are ponds and pools and semi-swamps within the city limits of Andalusia that foster more of the disease carriers than a gentle mist sprayed along the roadside can combat. A concerted effort must be made to reach these stagnant pools of water before the larvae hatch and the life cycle of the virus continues. In Louisiana, it took the deaths of four people, but they are finally going to the sources and treating those ponds and pools and swamps.

True the disease is usually only fatal for the very old - but does that mean the very old are not worth protecting? We have recently reported the rising number of retirees joining our community - are we now telling them that, while we appreciate their income and their input, we don't have the manpower or time to protect them? We certainly have the manpower to beautify downtown.

There is nothing wrong with the city's beautification attempts - we laud it often and loudly and recognize it as a valuable asset that will draw more people to our community. But if the city cannot put more effort into protecting the health of citizens, the renovated downtown will be a pretty frame for an ugly picture.

If there are not ordinances against allowing water to stand and stagnate, there should be. This is not a virus that goes away forever, just for the winter, when the mosquitoes do. When they come back, so does the virus, and a host of other illnesses that are vector-born and breed in our hidden puddles. With the threat of fines behind them, citizens might join the city in making a more sincere effort in removing the breeding sources.

Will it take the death of one of our elderly to prompt the city to take a more aggressive role in eliminating the mosquito? We must be proactive now. We cannot afford to wait until there has been a death - that is a price too high to pay.