An Accidental Catasrophe




In a desperate attempt to kill mosquitoes that carry the Zika Virus in South Carolina, about 2.5 million bees were killed on August 28th 2016 followed by an aerial spray of the pesticide called Naled.

The Zika Virus, named after the Zika Forest of Uganda where it was first isolated in 1947, is carried by the Aedes mosquito. The symptoms include pain in eyes, joints and muscles. It is particularly dangerous for pregnant women. Their children can suffer from Microcephaly, because of which babies are born seriously deformed due to abnormal growth of the brain. There is no vaccine or treatment for the Zika virus. 43 people in South Carolina had caught this virus.

However, the bee keepers condemned the carelessness shown by the authorities in South Carolina which led to collateral damage of such great magnitude. Instead of spraying the pesticide at night, they sprayed it after dawn when the bees were active outside their hives. They were disappointed that it was done without proper notice otherwise they would have demanded that it be done at night.

On the other hand, few suggest that this incident is not worth worrying about since the bees that died were commercial bees that can easily be replaced by human action such as importing more bees which would then reproduce. Furthermore, queen bees lay up to 2000 eggs in a day thus the population can be revived soon. The only thing for the beekeepers to worry about is their loss of income through the selling of honey which they say will be compensated by the county.

It is true that getting rid of the mosquitoes was crucial to avoid an outbreak of this virus but such endeavors should be carried out wisely. Possible safer solutions include using mosquito specific pesticides, using mosquito repellants at home and raising genetically modified mosquitoes which when mate with females, give an offspring that is incapable of mating. However, this solution is still in the stage of research and development. Hopefully, the bee population will be revived soon and such an inadvertent catastrophe will be avoided in the future.


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