Citing Environmental Concerns, Puerto Rico's Governor Rejects U.S. Insecticide To Fight Zika


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Puerto Rico’s governor announced Friday that he will not authorize aerial spraying with the insecticide naled to fight an increase in Zika cases as U.S. health officials have urged.
Instead, Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said he will support the spraying of Bti, an organic larvicide. He said it should be sufficient to fight the mosquito-borne virus along with other ongoing efforts, but hoped no child would be “born with congenital defects because of the decision I took.”
Zika can cause microcephaly, a rare defect in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and brain damage.
Puerto Ricans in recent weeks have organized several protests against the use of naled, raising concerns about its potential effects on people and wildlife. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently said Puerto Rico lacked an integrated mosquito control program as it fights what it called a silent epidemic. Eight of 10 people show no symptoms of Zika, which can cause symptoms including fever, rash and headache.
So far, Puerto Rico has 5,582 Zika cases and is seeing a 20-30 percent weekly increase in those cases, said Health Secretary Ana Rius.
There are 662 pregnant women infected with Zika, and up to 80 of them have given birth, all to healthy babies, she said. However, Puerto Rico in May reported the first microcephaly case acquired on U.S. soil. It involved a fetus that a woman turned over to U.S. health officials who found it tested positive for Zika.
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