Letter: Dobersen, Humankind’s deadliest enemy
June 14, 2016
Humankind's deadliest enemy is ignorance, fear and intolerance
As a physician and a scientist, I was very concerned about the message in Bill Hamilton's recent column, Mosquitoes: Humankind's Deadliest Enemy. In it, he charges the Obama Administration with importing refugees from the Middle East and Africa, allegedly with virtually no health screening, and placing them in locations all across the United States. He goes on to suggest that these refugees may likely infect our citizens with malaria, dengue fever or the Zika virus. Drawing from scientifically discredited sources, Mr. Hamilton discusses the banning of DDT as a deliberate design to endanger Americans. There are many inaccuracies in this piece, but overall it appears to be promoting yet another government conspiracy theory. I understand Mr. Hamilton is indeed the author of a number of conspiracy novels using a pen name.
Please consider the following:
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading public health agency of the United States, considers DDT to be a human carcinogen, as does the International Agency for Research in Cancer. Use of DDT is no longer permitted in the U.S.
• Refugees are the most scrutinized group of migrants, undergoing thorough health screenings and background checks which can take over 1,000 days. Any malaria, dengue fever or Zika virus would be detected in such a screening and would be health-related grounds for exclusion.
• To date Colorado has not had any Zika virus outbreaks except for those who have returned from a country where Zika virus is prevalent. Our climate does not support the mosquito which harbors the virus. Zika virus is best prevented by avoiding mosquito bites; using an insect spray with DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or para-menthane diol and wearing protective clothing. As we have all heard, pregnant women should avoid Zika prevalent areas due to the risk if birth defects.
It is disturbing to see fear and conspiracy theories prevent America from protecting some of the world's most vulnerable people, refugees. Senator Lindsay Graham has said that "if the United States does not change course with respect to accepting refugees, the country might as well take the Statue of Liberty and tear it down". I would argue that Humankind's deadliest enemy is not the mosquito rather it is ignorance, fear and intolerance.
Michael Dobersen, MD, PhD