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April 14, 1979 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1979-04-14

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4

Page 4-Saturday, April 14, 1979-The Michigan Daily
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, M! 48109
Eight-Nine Years of Editorial Freedom

Malaria may resurface as
a national health menace

Vol. LXXXIX, No. 156

News Phone: 764-0552

Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

i

Malaria, a disease that seemed
virtually extinguished 15 years
ago, has staged a virulent world-
wide come-back and health
authorities worry it could once
again become a menace in this
country.
"We are concerned about the
possible re-establishment of en-
demic malaria," said Dr. Ronald
R. Roberto, deputy chief of the
Infectious Disease Section at the
California Department of Health
Services. "It is not very likely,
but we have to consider it."
CALIFORNIA, with about a
third of the nationwide incidence,
of the disease, reported 226 cases
last year-a jump from 115 in
1977. All were imported by
travelers or immigrants,
especially from India and Central
America. Malaria is transmitted
by the Anopheles mosquitoes.
In 1974, three Californians were
infected by local Anopheles,
alarming public health
authorities. Once the malaria -
arasite is established in a
mosquito population, it becomes
a local menace. With further
spread of the disease abroad
combined with fund cutbacks in
mosquito control programs here,
'the malaria hazard has grown.
Gene Kauffman, manager en-
tomologist of the Sutter-Yuba
Mosquito Abatement District,
said a 50 per cent funding
decrease in the wake of
Proposition 13 will require his
staff to work longer hours, taking
compensatory time off during
slow seasons. Funds have been
cut back in most Central Valley
districts, though the climate is
right for both malaria and
sleeping sickness.
MALARIA WAS brought into
this country during the last cen-
tury. It killed many Native
Americans and plagued Califor-
nia gold miners. It disappeared
as an endemic disease in the state
during the 1930s and in its last
stronghold, the South, after

World War II.
The threat of its resurgence
now reflects a world-wide trend.
Within the past 15 years, the in-
cidence of malaria has increased
a hundredfold in some countries.
The global malaria-eradication
campaign launched in 1955 by the
World Health Organization
(WHO) seems to be coming to a
dead end. Many of the malaria-
bearing mosquitoes (43 species)
are now resistant to major insec-
ticides. About 356 million people
live in areas where mosquito
reisitance has slowed anti-
malaria efforts.
IN ADDITION, the disease
organism is increasingly
resistant to Chloroquin and
realted drugs used for prevention
and treatment. Epidemiologists
fear the time - which they
predict is bound to come-when
mosquito and parasite resistance
occur in the same place. The an-
cient scourge will then leap ever
further beyond control by the
methods that seemed so
promising 24 years ago.
The WHO campaign relied on a
paramilitary-style strategy in
which DDT was the chief weapon.
Teams of sprayers were dispat-
ched to even the most remote
villages of some countries to
douse the inside walls of
dwellings where mosquitoes tend
to rest after drawing blood. The
spraying was repeated
periodically, and within five
years the disease seemed on the
way out in many areas.
But the spraying led to DDT
build-up in mothers' milk, and
killed small animals and fish as
runoff dispersed the toxins. The
DDT also killed lice, fleas, and
flies for a time, until they
developed a reisitance.
MORE AND MORE spraying
was required. Normal
mosquitoes died, with those that

tolerated the poison proliferated.
Malaria epidemics began to
break out once again, aften
around poorly maintained
irrigation projects that produce.
standing water where mosquito
larvae hatch. Meanwhile, heavy
use of pesticides on irrigated
crops, especially cotton, speeded
up Anopheles resistance.
One of the most serious epi-
demics in the world, according to
WHO officials, is raging in
Turkey where extensive
irrigation canals were built as
part of an agricultural develop-
ment project in the Adana plain.
Between 1974 and 1977, the num-
ber of cases jumped from 2,877 to
115,385.
The immediate future looks
gloomy, according to a report
prepared for the United Nations
Environment Program
(UNEP). But the failure of the
pesticide-focused attack on the
disease has revived interest in
alternatives that, though more
subtle and difficult, seem to offer
the greatest hope of success at a
minimal environmental cost.
China has reported great suc-
cess with a comprehensive con-
trol program combining en-
vironmental methods with
modern insecticides.
SOME CANALS in Chine have
been put underground and
covered with roads or crops.
Paddy fields, canals and ponds
are stocked with carp and smur,
two edible fish. The carp eat the
mosquito larvae. The her-
bivorous amur clears pond
fringes, exposing larvae to wave
and wind movement, sunlight
and predators. In 1973, tens of
thousands of people in Shantung
province straightened the cour-
ses of four tortusuo rivers to
reduce mosquito habitat and con-
serve water, according to a

By Rasa Gustaitis

report by Professor Kung Chien=
chang, chief of the department of
medicine at Shanghai Hospital,
and Dr, Huang Shen-chi, deputy
director of Hupeh Provincial In:
stitute of Parasitology, Wuhan:
More recently, 1,120 canals and
ditches were cleared up and 1,474
pits and river turnings refilled.
Though the danger is not great,
that the disease might take hold in
the United States, where
mosquito control is highly
organized, American travelers
will be wise to take precautions
when going to countries where
malaria is prevalent, according
to entomologist Richard Garcia,
at the University of California's
Division of Biological Control ii
Berkeley.
Among the most promising
biological control agents now
being developed, according to
Garcia, is a bacillus that will kill
mosquito and blackfly larvae but
appears harmless to the en-
vironment. The blackfly, which
has a fierce bite, injures
domestic animals and is a
nuisance to river fishermen in
temperate zones. In central and
tropical American and in Africa,
it bears onchocercaisis, a lung
disease that also causes blind
dness.
If tests with this bacillus cons-
tinue to show promise, it could be
available within a few ye'ars for,
dispersal in water systems, Gar-
cia said in an interview.
However, Garcia stressed,.
"this is just one tactic. It is not a
solution. If you use one thing
only, reisitance will most likely
develop to that, too."
0

'Do his subsidies discourage him?'

Rasa Gustaitis
associate editor of
News Service.

is anw
Pacific

Nukes too dangerous

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T'S NOW ABOUT two weeks since
the near-tragic accident at, the
Three Mile Island nuclear reactor in
Pennsylvania generated widespread
public concern in the safety of nuclear
power. As the possibility of a meltdown
in the reactor was finally eliminated,
proponents of nuclear power argued
the ability to prevent disaster in this
case proved that nuclear energy is a
safe solution to the nation's energy
crisis. On the other hand, anti-nuclear
activists have insisted the near
disastrous accident at this plant shows
there is no guarantee that nuclear
power is safe.
But an obvious question was posed:
What would the government do to sof-
ten public criticism and fears of the
danger of nuclear power? That
question was answered this past week
by the Nuclear Power Regulatory
Commission (NRC) who announced it
would impose stricter safety standards
on the operating nuclear plants in the
United States.
At the same time, the commission
strongly vowed it is not contemplating
recommending "any new reactor
shutdowns at this time." President Car-
ter backed up that statement by
issuing his own, arguing that it was not
possible to abandon nuclear power in
the foreseeable future. The President
also appointed an 11-member com-
mission to find the answers to what

'happened at Three Mile Island.
Howeyer, it is clear from the
statements by the commission and the
President that the Washington
bureaucracy still views nuclear power
as the solution to the nation's energy
problems. The President indicated
that the commission investigating
Three Mile Island would report on how
lessons of the accident "can strengthen
safety standards, better design
techniques and also operating
procedures to make safety better in the
future."
But the government seems to be tur-
ning its back on the accident at Three
Mile Island. The steps taken to insure
that the currently operating nuclear
power plants are made safer are
necessary to safeguard the public's
welfare. The government, however,
does not seem to feel that nuclear
power must be abandoned within the
next several decades. It can make the
safety standards stricter but it will be
unable to guarantee complete safety
from a meltdown. After all, wasn't
Three Mile Island supposed to be a safe
nuclear reactor?
Carter and the NRC must come to
the realization that nuclear power has
to be gradually phased out in this coun-
try. The government should instead
turn its efforts toward developing
alternative sources of energy.

NASA needs better public
relations to end skepticism

The National Aeronautics and
Space Administration (NASA)
has recently made in Neil Ar-
mstrong's immortal words, "one
giant leap for mankind" after
another. In the past few months,
the Pioneer-Venus unmanned
mission to Venus and the
Voyager spacecraft orbit around
Jupiter have given scientists the
most spectacular and detailed
pictures of Venus and Jupiter.
These two probes have given
NASA officials significant
knowledge about the composition

By Timothy Yagle

evolutionary processes will make
our own planet's future easier to
understand.
Since the partially-ignorant
American public (due to NASA's
mediocre public relations effort)
desires only immediate benefits
from our nation's space program,
people have become disillusioned
with NASA. Scientists will soon
be receiving detailed pictures
and valuable information from
Mars, Jupiter, Venus, and

Improved surgical techniques,
space-suit-like garments for
neurologically-handicapped peo-
ple and more efficient record
keeping due to sophisticated
computers, are just a few exam-
ples of advanced technology.
New space programs also
generate jobs for otherwise job-
less engineers and technicians.
NASA has contracted and sub-
contracted a plethora of com-
panies for specific work on

to help alleviate some of the
problems here on earth.
Members of the local chapter
of the L5 Society, a knowledgable
organization devoted to the ad-
vocation of colonization and ex-
ploration of outer space, say we
had the technology to build the
colony 10 years ag, but the only
obstacle to launching such a
program was, and still is,
Congressional funding.
CONGRESS HAS been the
biggest thorn in NASA's side sin-
ce it formed in 1958. Believing
that their constituents see no
immediate and tangible benefits
from space exploration (especially
from the Apollo program).
Congress doesn't adequately fund
NASA. "They brought back a
bunch of rocks from the moon.
"Why didn't they bring back
something important?" people
complain. After studying those
rocks, weknow more about the
moon than we ever did, which
gives scientists clues to the ear-
th's origin since the earth and
moon were formed around the
same time. Just as a footnote,
scientific gains from the Apollo
program could fill your average
college textbook.
One of the intangible benefits of
the space program's exploration
of interplanetary space is simply
the thrill of knowing we can ac-
complish it.
That may sound ridiculous, but
one can lend some credence to
this idea. Man is innately curious
and is in constant pursuit of
knowledge, if only for its own,
sake. We now know that man can
- live in space for extended periods
of time (more than 80 days
thanks to the Skylab missions),
can go to the moon and return
safely, and can uncover in-
triguing clues to the origin,>
evolution, and future of our Solar'
system.
But, to reiterate, the real:
problem NASA has is expressing
how beneficial the space
program has been and will con-,'
tinue to be. And, even though there
are no manned missions exceptr

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The Space Shuttle, above, will serve as NASA's workhorse for the rest of this centuryIt will be the main
transport vehicle for the proposed space colonies along with maintaining and repairing presently orbiting
satellites.

111k

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of these two planets-more than
ever before.
But so what? Will these
discoveries benefit the average
American? Will the "incredible
advancements of science" as
NASA has dubbed them, make
society any better for
Americans? Will they stifle this
country's soaring inflation rate?
THE UNITED STATES
has spent (some say wasted)
billions of dollars on our space

Uranus. But these discoveries
are seen by Americans only on
their evening newscasts.Most of
the technological benefits won't.
be noticeable for many years.
The benefits that are noticeable
now include the modern cash
registers, liquid crystal watches,
and wafer-thin calculators. But
these luxuries have not convinced
Americans that space ex-
ploration should be one of our
high priorities.

programs like the troubled space
shuttle. They have practiced this
method ever since the Mercury
program.
NASA IS APPLYING all the
technology it reaped from Skylab
and the Apollo program, to a con-
cept that became a near reality
only within the past
decade-space colonization.-
Mankind is currently in the
midst of two tremendous social
programs: overpopulation and

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