Pesticide used in aerial spraying for Zika virus may be harmful

Anti-pesticide signs in Captain Cook, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Cathy Bussewitz)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Florida is battling the spread of the Zika virus partially with aerial spraying, but there is now concern that the pesticide itself may be harmful to unborn babies.

When pregnant women become infected with Zika, their babies can be born with extremely harmful birth defects. Because the virus is spreading locally through mosquitoes in South Florida, the state has responded by spraying pesticide from planes.

Dr. Barry Ryan with the Rollins School Of Public Health at Emory University says that pesticide may cause other problems for babies.

“It’s essentially a neurotoxin and can result in unborn children … having particular neurodevelopment problems,” Ryan said.

The European Union has banned Naled insecticide, and people have demonstrated against its use in Puerto Rico, where Zika is rampant. The mayor of San Juan even filed a lawsuit against the Center for Disease Control to prevent spraying the pesticide.

The CDC responded, saying Naled has been used for years in the United States. The small amount used does not pose a health risk to people, according to the CDC.

There are now 69 reported cases of the Zika virus in Virginia, with 11 of them in Central Virginia.

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