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BRING BACK DDT: Debilitating Virus Infects Island Paradise. “Given a choice between dengue fever or another mosquito-borne disease called chikungunya fever, choose dengue every time. Neither has an available vaccine or treatment, but chikungunya (pronounced chik-un-GUHN-ya) is far more severe – it literally means ‘that which bends up’ because patients are often stooped over from debilitating joint pain.”


BRING BACK DDT (CONT’D): More on Florida’s dengue fever outbreak. “Last August, an alert doctor in upstate New York realized that one of his patients, whose only recent travel had been to Key West, Fla., had dengue — a mosquito-borne virus that causes joint pain so severe it is nicknamed “break-bone fever” in Latin America and Asia. According to last week’s report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida health authorities have since found 27 more cases, all in Key West, the last in April. . . . Although there have been outbreaks along the Texas-Mexico border since 1980, the disease had not been seen in Florida since 1934. Unlike malaria, which is caused by a parasite, dengue is a virus, and there is no cure.”

A BEDBUG EXPLOSION IN NEW YORK CITY. Bring back DDT. “The recent citywide resurgence of bedbugs has been well documented. In 2004, the Health Department tallied 537 complaints and 82 actual violations. Last year, those numbers ballooned to 10,985 complaints and 4,084 violations (given that the problem is thought to be significantly underreported, the notion that there aren’t far more cases is daylight madness).”

Here, by the way, is a recipe for homemade DDT, though I haven’t tried it and don’t vouch for it. Perhaps some readers will know more. Given New York’s problem, I’m surprised there’s not a flood of homemade DDT. It’s happened before.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

Long time reader, occasional writer. I am a PhD synthetic organic chemist; as such, as I found your article on homebrew DDT to be of some professional interest.

The procedure appears to be legit; nevertheless, I would strongly encourage no one to perform the chemistry outside of a lab environment. Most of the ingredients have reasonable levels of toxicity. As a chemist, I’d feel comfortable performing this chemistry in my lab, where I’d have the protection of a continuously drawing fume hood, lots of PPE and pretty decent temperature control. The ingredients aren’t really easy to get (chloral hydrate is hard to get, even for a professional chemist).

Finally, the waste streams from this chemistry would definitely be considered hazardous waste and something that shouldn’t be poured down the drain.

All of this to say, don’t do this in your garage — I think you’d regret it.

Well, I certainly wouldn’t. But then, I wouldn’t even make black powder nowadays, something I did as a kid. Meanwhile, reader Joan Pickett offers a prediction: “The ban on DDT will last right up until they start appearing in the bedrooms of the political class. Bed bugs are fine for you, but not for your…um…betters.”

GIVING THAT WARMING’S BEEN “PAUSED” FOR NEARLY 20 YEARS, CAN THIS REALLY BE DUE TO “CLIMATE CHANGE?” U.S. Becomes More Vulnerable to Tropical Diseases Like Zika. “Until May, Zika had never touched this hemisphere except on Easter Island, 2,200 miles off the Chilean coast. Now it circulates in 14 Latin American or Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico.”

Bring back DDT.

CHIKUNGUNYA: New mosquito-borne virus spreads in Latin America.

Chikungunya is a word that comes from the Makonde language of Tanzania in eastern Africa and translates roughly as “that which bends up,” in reference to the severe arthritis-like ache in joints that causes sufferers to contort with pain. It’s usually accompanied by a spiking fever and headache. There have been only 113 deaths linked to the region’s outbreak, according to the most recent data, but chikungunya can be crippling.

Herman Slater, a 60-year-old gardener in Jamaica’s capital of Kingston, said he was laid out for almost two weeks this month with unimaginable joint pain, hammer-pounding headaches and fevers that came in waves.

“I tell you, I was surprised by how painful it was. It was taking me five minutes to get out of bed, and then I could hardly even walk,” Slater said. “My hands were so bad I couldn’t open a bottle, couldn’t comb my hair. Every night I was wet from sweat.”

In acute cases, pain can last for months. Joanna Rivas, who works as a maid in the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo, said she has had joint pain since May, and her 12-year-old daughter’s case is so severe the girl can’t hold her pen at school. Both have been taking the pain reliever acetaminophen, the main treatment for chikungunya, which has no cure or vaccine.

Bring back DDT.

CARIBBEAN WORRIES: Threatwatch: Chikungunya may explode with rainy season. “Chikungunya virus, which causes fever and debilitating pain, has spread around the Caribbean, made landfall in South America, and could travel still further with the tourists who flock to the region for carnival season and winter breaks. With rains – and mosquitoes – due to surge in the Caribbean in coming months, the virus poses the greatest threat to the tropical Americas, possibly including places still blissfully unaware they harbour it.”

Bring back DDT.

LYME DISEASE: The Lyme-disease infection rate is growing. So is the battle over how to treat it. “Today, deer are no longer exotic in the Hudson Valley, and the area has the highest rate of Lyme disease in the country. If you drive the back roads of Columbia County at dusk, deer are nearly impossible to avoid, and accidents are common. Ticks are constantly on residents’ minds, and watching children run barefoot to the edge of the bucolic woods is no longer a carefree delight. Deer are not Ixodes’s most important host, but they have come to symbolize the spread of Lyme, and represent an ecology that has changed dramatically in the past thirty-five years.”

Hunt ’em until they’re rare again. Venison is tasty! And as for the white-footed mice — cats? Or maybe bring back DDT . . . .

STRESS: Bed bugs’ biggest impact may be on mental health after an infestation of these bloodsucking parasites. “Bed bugs are back with a vengeance. After an absence of around 70 years, thanks to effective pesticides such as DDT, they’ve been popping up in fancy hotels, spas, department stores, subway trains, movie theaters – and, of course, people’s homes. . . . Historically, these tiny bloodsuckers were common in human dwellings worldwide, giving the old saying “sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” real meaning. They had nearly disappeared in developing countries until the mid-1990s, when they began making a comeback because of restriction or loss of certain pesticides, changes in pest control practices and increased international travel. In many areas around the world, they are now a major urban pest.”

Maybe we should bring back those “effective pesticides.” Just sayin’.


Governments around the world took drastic measures in 2020 in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19, in many cases locking down economies and confining people to their homes for months on end. The extent to which these measures actually helped contain the COVID-19 pandemic is highly dubious. But the death toll from the unintended consequences of lockdowns continues to mount.

The World Health Organization (WHO) just reported that pandemic measures delayed and disrupted medical care for the global malaria crisis, leading to tens of thousands of additional deaths. An astounding 14 million additional malaria cases were recorded in 2020 compared to 2019, the WHO says. So, too, we saw 69,000 more malaria deaths in 2020 compared to 2019, 47,000 of which the organization says are directly attributable to disrupted diagnosis and treatment stemming from government pandemic restrictions.

If only there was a proven method to fight malaria. If only.

RATS ON THE WEST SIDE, BEDBUGS UPTOWN: “TVNewser has learned the human resources department of TBS Inc. has sent out an email this afternoon alerting staffers of a bed bug problem in their New York City offices at Time Warner Center — home to CNN, and other Time Warner entities.” Bringing back DDT would solve this problem. . . .

UPDATE: Reader Jonathan Bailey writes: “A bedbug infestation at TimeWarner Center may just be the savior of the developing world. When the elites are made to live with he consequences of their misguided policies, things change. Quickly.”