PREVENTION – Grandma said an ounce of it is worth a pound of cure, right? It’s what we preach for all other diseases, isn’t it? Condoms, eating well, exercising and stopping smoking, etc.
Dallas County, I really think you can do a better job of helping the public do a better job of prevention, so summer doesn’t have to come to what you all call an epidemic again. (Although I still say 40 precious lost lives is not an epidemic - especially compared to the 10's of thousands that die from preventable chronic disease like diabetes and it's related complications caused, mostly, from eating fast and processed food which we rarely see any ad campaigns against because the food industry would scream.)
But it is July, and as a resident of a city who contracts with the County of Dallas to provide Health and Human Services, again this year, I’ve not seen ONE single piece of information regarding what I’m to do in order to protect myself and help prevent mosquito outbreaks. Now in all fairness, my city hasn't done anything either. But we PAY the county to help us, from what I understand, and I think you might need to do a better job of helping.
They may not be your typical resident, but they live here, too and need to be reached;
They do not watch television. So please don’t tell me, you’ve been running commercials. The billboards in my area have not been changed, and even if they had been, they're homebound, and don’t get to the highway to see them. They may not read very well, and don’t get the paper delivered. And they may not have internet service.
They do, however, get a water bill, a gas bill, an electric bill and perhaps a Social Services check every month. We all get plenty of daily junk mail with pictures of coupons for things many will never be able to afford, too. It seems to me that within this budget allowing for the wasteful expense of spraying risky adulticide chemicals from airplanes over my neighborhood, (that as you may have conveniently forgotten wasn't even effective according to the later CDC report), there would be a line item for public outreach campaign that could include simply designed brochures explaining NOT the symptoms of this rarely contracted disease, which could mimic the symptoms of eating a greasy fast food meal or the flu; potentially causing unnecessary panic in individuals who fear they’ve contracted the illness; but instead, explaining what to look for around my home and neighborhood and what to do when I find it – to help my community and myself PREVENT it.
The 4 “d’s”; Drain, Deet, Dusk/Dawn & Dress – which, by the way, is 5 D’s for those of you counting - isn’t working very well to educate people on how they can help prevent a mosquito problem as well as it could or we’d see better evidence its effects - namely, less mosquitoes, more sales of BT products, less standing water, etc.
What about those who are allergic to Deet? Those who HAVE to be out at dusk and/or dawn for work? Who can’t drain an area of their property that floods and remains swampy?
What if, the 4 D’s looked something like this;
DEFEND – instead of Deet – since the list now (finally and thankfully) includes other options for protecting oneself as outlined on the EPA’s page. Deet isn’t the only game in town. And in all honesty, this category can include the DRESS options….
(This could make the campaign the 3D’s, and let your marketing department take it from there and have fun. I see “3D” glasses sent out to read the brochures, pics of mosquito larvae swimming in water just jumping off of the page – loose fitting funky clothes and spray coming out of a bottle, etc, all in 3D! Time to hire an ad agency to do your brochures and jazz it up a bit.
DUNK – those areas you can’t Drain – with larvaecide – namely, BTi. I KNOW you all have heard of this option dozens of times at least. Bits and dunks available through your local municipality – for free. Last up to 30 days. Wow, send one with each water bill?
DRESS - wear loose fitting long, sleeved shirts and pants at Dusk and Dawn when mosquitoes are most hungry and when around ponds, creeks and other places mosquitoes are most likely to congregate.
There’s your 4-D’s that can be conveyed in diagrams or cartoon images.
Picture examples of where water accumulates, such as rain gutters, bottoms of trash cans, kids’ toys, trash, ahem, neighbors’ abandonedswimming pools and litter. (Like dammed up bar ditches in front of brand new elementary schools in SE Dallas County - image to follow once I find it again.)
How about a picture of a koala bear eating eucalyptus leaves along with the DEET on the bottles. An image of someone wearing long sleeves against a sunset/sunrise. And by all means, pictures of Dunks and Bits being tossed into standing water - for those who’ve never heard of them or don’t know how to use them.
How about using some of those funds for grants to help people replace screens and add screen doors or gutter guards to help keep mosquitoes out of their homes and from providing out of reach breeding places?
And perhaps most important of all – how about sending out one of these brightly colored, easy to read brochures monthly, starting say in March in a utility bill or door to door flyer? It's JULY. Nothing.
Mother Nature, she’s going to win. She’s not going to go away forever, although we have done a good job of setting her back by way of hurting the beneficials and continue to do a good job making it a slower recovery rate for her as we continue to think we can win by spraying toxins everywhere. But WE’ll end up killing OURselves and our kids with the effects of the poisons we use to try to make her go away - long before we kill her totally. She’ll have the last laugh and once we're gone, the planet will survive just fine without our interference.
Mosquitoes and various vector carried illnesses will always be around – no matter how many times you pay someone to fog or aerial spray, day or night – so we need to learn to live among them in a more preventative way. And do a better job of making it so easy for them to procreate and eat..
Eat Your Food - Naturally!