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Anti-Zika Fumigation Plans in Puerto Rico Cause Outrage

By on June 29, 2016

SAN JUAN—Plans by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to fumigate an insecticide by airplane on Puerto Rico to combat the ongoing Zika epidemic has drawn criticism from organizations and politicians on the island.

David Bernier

David Bernier

Earlier this week, reports came out that the federal agency, which of late has kept a stronger presence in Puerto Rico due to the high number of Zika-related cases on the island, intend to use an insecticide  called Naled that the Environmental Protection Agency has registered since 1959 for use in the United States.

The Zika virus, which has been linked to cases of microcephaly in newborns, is transmitted by mosquitos and through sexual contact.

Popular Democratic Party (PDP) President and gubernatorial candidate David Bernier was among those who spoke against such plans on Wednesday. In a written statement, Bernier said he was concerned about “the possible noxious effects of this action over our people’s health and our ecosystem, specifically our bodies of water.”

He also criticized “the manner in which reports were made known to the public, mainly through unofficial channels and without any formal announcement on the matter, which prompted additional speculation and confusion.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Fortaleza chief of staff Grace Santana acknowledged that fumigations plans are under evaluation, but that they depend on Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro García Padilla authorizing the operation. She added that there are no plans to fumigate this Friday and that no fumigations have taken place yet, contrary to various reports.

“Due to the accelerating pattern of contagion from the Zika virus, which recently increased by 25%, the government of Puerto Rico continues evaluating other methods of fumigation to control the mosquito population,” Santana noted.

“This method has been used in U.S. jurisdictions such as Miami and Tampa Bay,” Santana aded. “If authorized, it would be carried out in accordance to recommendations from local and federal agencies to minimize the risk to residents and the environment.”

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