Puerto Rico Won’t Use Naled Against Zika
SAN JUAN — Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro García Padilla announced Friday he was not convinced by federal authorities to use the insecticide Naled to fight the mosquito-borne Zika virus.
“I hope that no baby is born with congenital defects because I made the wrong choice,” said the governor, adding that his decision is based on what certain experts say and the inability of those favoring the use of Naled to address all of the government’s concerns.
Meanwhile, the Puerto Rico government has authorized the CDC to use Bti, a larvicide that is “organic and innocuous” to health and the environment, the governor said Friday.
When asked by Caribbean Business whether La Fortaleza would reconsider the call of not using Naled if federal authorities address the administration’s pending concerns, García Padilla said, “I don’t think so…. I don’t envision it.”
The governor pointed to the other potential ways the virus could be transmitted other than the aedes aegypti mosquito, which makes just controlling this way of transmission less effective.
On Thursday, the U.S. Health & Human Services Department (HHS) stated that the shipments of Naled and Bti arrived in Puerto Rico on Wednesday, July 20, and remain “stored and secured.”
“We regret that the shipment of Naled arrived in Puerto Rico without appropriate levels of awareness,” the CDC said Friday. “We moved too quickly in our urgency to do all that we could to be responsive and prepared in the event officials in Puerto Rico decided to use Naled.”
Meanwhile, the Bti supply will remain stored at the Isla Grande Airport until the permit process to spray the larvicide aerially runs its course, or some six to eight weeks, government officials indicated.
Both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the CDC have endorsed the use of Naled in Puerto Rico. However, many local organizations and sectors of society strongly opposed the use of the insecticide, citing negative health and environmental effects.
Hundreds protested Thursday in La Fortaleza, urging the García Padilla administration to desist using the insecticide as a measure to fight the mosquito-borne virus.
Government officials reported 1,145 new cases for this week, including 119 pregnant women.
In total, there are 5,582 Zika cases on the island, including 672 pregnant women, of which 80 delivered healthy babies. Twenty-one people have been diagnosed with the Guillain-Barre nervous system syndrome, 65 have been hospitalized and one person died from the virus.
“This is not a game, and it is very important the participation of the community, in addition to government efforts,” said Health Secretary Ana Ríus.