OMFG Zika!Submitted by skrapmetal at 2016-08-12 18:49:30 EDT
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You’ve all seen the recent news about Zika virus spreading from South America into the Caribbean and North America. There are like 30 confirmed cases in Florida, where I live, and several in Texas and Louisiana. It’s a virus, and so there’s no medication that can just kill it. The NIH is frantically trying to develop a vaccine, but it’ll be a while before they can release something that will work. Vaccines use the human body’s disease-fighting capabilities to eradicate new diseases, because our bodies are better at adapting to fight diseases than are NIH laboratories focusing on developing a ‘cure’.
The virus is famously responsible for a type of microcephaly in developing fetuses prominently featured in news articles, but it also causes other developmental problems beyond just the skull and brain. Deformities of limbs and spines, underdeveloped nervous systems, and reduced mental capacities are regularly attributed to infection with the Zika virus. There is no cure, and at this time there is no preventative.
Zika is, in my opinion, a bigger real threat than AIDS because it’s spread not only by irresponsible interpersonal contact like unprotected sex and sharing drug needles but by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes attack everyone, regardless of lifestyle or personal habits. In fact, despite that the virus can live in semen for several months, mosquitoes remain the primary vector for the disease spread at this point. It rarely kills people but it makes some of them sick enough that they never fully recover, and it has the potential to deform babies so they will require a lifetime of constant care and will (probably) not reproduce. Most of the time the effects are not visible to the eye, but they are evident in the IQ test.
In Florida, the local jurisdictions are ramping up their drive-around-spraying-mosquito-death-chemicals programs to reduce the potential for spread of the virus. It is an extension of the philosophy left over from battling influenza and tuberculosis. While the pickup trucks with the sprayers may kill off millions of the little bastards, it doesn’t work well enough because of the amount of inaccessible land and standing water that is pretty much everywhere in Florida. And the treatments are expensive. And spraying poison around residential areas may be a bit of a really bad idea. But I, as you may have already guessed, have a solution.
As you may or may not recall, I have a bathouse in my yard (https://www.ubersite.com/m/128833). Know what bats do? They eat mosquitoes. Know what bats don’t get? Zika. See where I’m going with this? Of course you do. Every mosquito that’s eaten by a bat is a mosquito that will not pass Zika from one person to another. Or Dengue Fever, or malaria, or any other disease that mosquitoes carry and bats don’t. Bats are free: put up a bathouse and they will just show up. They eat the bad evil disease-carrying insects and poop out fertilizer for your plants (just mix it into your compost and stand by while your herbs and flowers grow faster than you can handle).
The county in which I live spends about $120K on mosquito spraying each year. My bathouse cost about $150 to build and houses about 300 bats which clear about 30 acres of mosquitoes. For the same money, the county could have built 800 bathouses to clear 24,000 acres, or 37.5 square miles of mosquitoes. Every. Single. Day. The county I live in is a bit under 600 square miles, so it would take the bats about 16 days to eat every mosquito in the county. But wait! There’s more. Male mosquitoes live about 10 days while females live around 45 days. If half the mosquitoes the bats eat are male, that means that in that same 16 days the population of male mosquitoes will have dropped by about 80%. Another 16 days and that’s 96%. No males to make new mosquitoes and you know what you get? A Zika free Florida in just a couple months.
Bottom line: Build a bathouse, get free fertilizer and a mosquito-free yard, everybody but Zika wins.