Zika

Libertarians and the Zika Virus

The open access medical commons and the role of government

|

AedesAegypti
University of Florida

Zika virus is coming to the mainland U.S. this summer. It is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and is now known to target developing brain cells and thus substantially raise the microencephaly rate among children whose mothers had been infected during their pregnancies. In addition, Zika infections also increase the risk of the Gullain-Barre paralyzing syndrome. The Zika virus has spread throughout Latin America and the Caribbean; the outbreak in Puerto Rico is growing fast. So far no local mosquito-borne Zika virus disease cases have been reported in the mainland U.S., but there have been 388 travel-associated cases.

Pharmaceutical companies are working on a vaccine, but until one becomes available mosquito control is the only real way to limit the outbreak. In addition, modern biotechnology could be used to create mosquitoes genetically engineered to resist the virus or even kill off the mosquitoes that spread it.

Libertarians are justifiably skeptical when federal health bureaucrats seek to expand their powers by claiming that obesity and gun violence are public health emergencies. However, infectious diseases occur in the medical open access commons where individuals (especially in the absence of a vaccine or suitable anti-viral medications) have a hard time taking effective measures to protect themselves against infection. In this case, the medical commons that we all share is threatened by a disease that can be best limited by implementing widespread measures to kill the mosquitoes that spread it. There are three ways to address problems in a commons: regulate them, privatize them, or ignore them. In the case of Zika privatizing won't work, although I suppose we could all drape mosquito netting or soak ourselves in DEET before going outside this summer.

ZikaMap
NASA

The Obama administration has asked Congress to appropriate $1.9 billion to fight the spread of the disease. Congress is balking at appropriating the requested funds on the grounds it will increase the federal deficit. Congress wants the Obama Administration to shift some funds previously appropriated for Ebola control to the fight against Zika. This fight needs to be resolved before summer when Zika is likely to begin its spread in the U.S.

For more background on how to handle the medical commons, see Reason's forum, What is the Libertarian Response to Ebola?

Advertisement

NEXT: Obama Administration Doesn't Want Us to Hold Its Overzealous Prosecutions Against Its Targets

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. There are three ways to address problems in a commons: regulate them, privatize them, or ignore them.

    Looking at the map, I see a fourth: Leave Florida.

    1. Only works if we also stop travel to Florida.

    2. I am looking forward to Bailey arguing that mandatory Zika vaccinations are the libertarian thing to do.

    3. Nice graphic. Now how about one we can actually read?

  2. How about ending the CDC initiatives for non-communicable diseases and straight-up social engineering? There’s plenty of budget to be had there.

      1. “Ending [sic] the Tobacco Epidemic [sic]” – it really is just signalling and moral preening at this point.

        1. No, they have yet to accomplish: Allowing all businesses in every state to fire/refuse to hire people for using a tobacco product, banning use in every kind of person’s home, mandating that users wear a symbol of shame, forcing all smokers into ghettos….

          Don’t roll your eyes – 10 years ago, did anyone imagine that tobacco use (or vape use) would be banned in outdoor spaces as open as a park, anywhere indoors or out on a college campus, in people’s cars, in attached homes and apartments, or that shaming propaganda such as “left swipe” would happen without outrage?

      2. “Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation[PDF-3.2MB]”

        Yeah, good luck

        1. Seattle was going to “Solve the problem of Homelessness” within ten years. Ten years later, homelessness had what, tripled?

          1. Damn, i should get the city of Seattle to try to solve the problem of me having too much money and blowjobs.

      3. National Strategies for Advancing Bicycle Safety

        What?

    1. Obesity is a disease! So it’s in their bailiwick. Now literally take a hike.

        1. So… literally take a hike?

      1. I thought obesity was an epidemic? Is that better or worse than a disease? I know, let’s ask the CDC, they should know.

    2. That was my thought. If they don’t have room in the budget for something that they should actually be doing, stop doing all the bullshit.

  3. I’m glad that graphic is just legible enough to catch my interest, but not quite legible enough to actually read.

    1. +1 eyestrain

      1. The CDC should do something about that!

    2. I think that’s the actual purpose.

    3. It lists the areas where there are zombie attacks that have been covered up as Zika outbreaks.

      1. At least Zika zombies have tiny heads.

        1. You idiot. That’s your only target for stopping one and you’re celebrating it being smaller???

          1. The tiny head impairs their senses. That makes it easier to knock them down and bash their heads open with a baseball bat. I’m trying to help people conserve ammo here.

    4. It’s a projected forecast of where the mosquito might show up as a problem – but how seriously are you going to take a map drawn by people who think Florida will still be above sea level next summer? Obviously climate deniers, I’d say it’s safe to ignore them.

  4. Congress wants the Obama Administration to shift some funds previously appropriated for Ebola control to the fight against Zika.

    How about shifting funds from fighting smoking and sodapop or any of the other myriad things the government has no business wasting my “public health” tax dollars on?

    1. I bet the Pentagon could pull $2 billion out from between its couch cushions.

      1. Or sell some couch cushions.

      2. But then Kony will be allowed to roam free.

      3. $2 billion? That’s at least an envelope of “emergency” cash they forgot they put in a jar at the back of the pantry.

    2. Or how about just ending those initiatives and sending us taxpayers a refund?

      1. Now you’re just being unreasonable.

  5. soak ourselves in DEET

    Uh huh, how much SC Johnson stock do you own Ron?

  6. There is something else going on here too.

    The CDC has been performing Zika testing – for a fee. Meanwhile the FDA has been dragging their feet to authorize lab testing companies to perform the test. Government doesn’t like competition. (Rumor also has it that they could not believe how much more accurate the commercial firms’ results are than the CDC)

    Yesterday the first Commercial Lab finally received permission to market a Zika test.

    1. If private labs develop a vaccine, they’re likely to try to sell it. When government develops a vaccine, they give it away for free.

        1. Listen, Frank. Anything that doesn’t require you to dip into the wallet right then is free. Like public schools and libraries.

            1. Indentured servitude…the best kind of Free?.

      1. This is just the test right now. So far this year, only the CDC is allowed to do the test – despite it being a relatively disease to test.

        Given the horrifying birth defects it causes, every woman who gets bitten by a mosquito this summer will want to be tested.

        1. Test, vaccines, whatever. Doesn’t change the fact that some filthy company may try to profit off the misfortune of others.

          1. And – purely a coincidence – those filthy companies can do those tests far cheaper, faster, and more accurately than the government. I attribute it to the power of evil.

  7. Here’s some hard numbers from 2014

    Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion $1,186,001,000

    Injury Prevention and Control $150,447,000

    Occupational Safety and Health $332,363,000

    Birth Defects, Developmental Disabilities, Disability and Health $129,190,000

    That’s about $1.8 billion

    1. Why in the hell is the CDC involved in the two middle ones at all. Getting injured or getting sick from something that happened at your job is not an issue for the CDC. These should be handled (and probably are) by the Labor and Commerce departments.

      1. Bureaucratic Empire Building

        The first one is where they bury all of the real bullshit stuff (diabetes and smoking)

      2. Why is the CDC involved in programs trying to get the fairer sex interested in science? Because they can.

  8. “There are three ways to address problems in a commons: regulate them, privatize them, or ignore them.”

    That’s from a bureaucratic standpoint.

    Individuals can do all sorts of things to protect themselves from mosquitoes.

    I’ve seen ’em do it. I’ve done it myself.

    You can use bug spray when you go hiking. You can avoid going hiking this summer–and avoid areas with high concentrations of mosquitoes. You can use mosquito netting.

    Most Americans don’t live in anything like a tropical climate. You might want to skip that trip to Brazil for the Olympics.

    We’re not invulnerable to any viruses, but we’re not exactly powerless either. Having to take risks into consideration when we make decisions isn’t anything new. I can’t promise you won’t be attacked by terrorists either, but there are things you can do to limit the risks. You might want to avoid backpacking through Syria this summer.

    1. Most Americans don’t live in anything like a tropical climate.

      True. But the combined populations of all of Florida and Texas south of the panhandle are not insignificant.

  9. After listening to the pants shitting, by certain individuals here about Ebola, I’m having a hard time working myself into a lather.

    Something about a chicken and the sky falling on a crying wolf.

    1. Opposing Obama needlessly bringing thousands of people with a highly contagious disease isn’t pants shitting. If anything qualifies as pants shitting, it’s supporting Obama’s attempt to bring Ebola patients here by thousands–because we have to do something!

      And, incidentally, Obama dropped his plan to bring Ebola patients here by the thousands because of the political reaction. If nothing too bad happened because of the few patients he did bring here, maybe it’s because of all the people who opposed his stupid plan shut it down.

      P.S. Zika is spread through mosquitoes and sexual contact. That kind of vector isn’t like in Ebola, where the patients themselves are the vector–regardless of sexual contact. If you wanted to compare the two, bringing Ebola patients to the United States would be like Obama specifically importing Zika infected mosquitoes. Why would we want Obama to do that?

      1. and sexual contact.

        this is why Libertarians can feel safe about Zika.

        1. Well, at least Longtorso is safe.

            1. “Well, at least Longtorso is safe.”

              *Gibbs slaps HM*

      2. Opposing Obama needlessly bringing thousands of people with a highly contagious disease isn’t pants shitting.

        If you wanted to compare the two, bringing Ebola patients to the United States would be like Obama specifically importing Zika infected mosquitoes.

        I think two (or three) separate issues have been conflated. Considering the pantshitting about fucking *measles* that went on around these parts, even before Ebola, I agree with Franky.

        That should not be construed as approval of any/all immigration policies.

      3. Opposing Obama needlessly bringing thousands of people with a highly contagious disease isn’t pants shitting.

        That wasn’t the pants shitting part. The pants shitting part was all the people who were sure that if we didn’t close down all flights from West Africa to the US we would be very likely to have a massive Ebola outbreak.

        I don’t remember anything about Obama wanting to bring in thousands of patients. But if that was something, it was a really stupid idea.

        Now can we all please stop saying “pants shitting”? It’s getting really old.

        1. Whatever you say, dungarees deucer.

        2. It’s getting really old.

          You know where you are, right?

          1. Who am I? What am I doing here?

            1. Is this not your beautiful house?

              1. I was going more for Admiral Stockdale.

        3. Now can we all please stop saying “pants shitting”?

          You know who else exhorted his community to stop saying certain things?

        4. It’s getting really old.

          My thoughts and prayers are with you.

          1. Well, that’s kind of you.

        5. Now can we all please stop saying “pants shitting”? It’s getting really old.

          Pants-shitting remarks are very meta. Often making them is a form of pants-shitting.

          1. It’s pants-shitting all the way down.

    2. P.P.S. If you risk your life savings on a hand of blackjack and end up in a push, does that mean the people who told you it was stupid to risk your life savings on a hand of blackjack were wrong?

      Nah, maybe you should keep risking it all, hand after hand, until your critics finally realize that the only people who don’t risk it all on blackjack are a bunch of stupid rednecks?

    3. And yet, one of the best ways to keep mosquitos from biting is to cover yourself in a lather. I prefer a fine Corinthians 2 lather myself, but there are at least 23 different kinds of lather you can choose from – all of them made in China and all of them using artisinal mayonnaise made without any egg yolk and deep-dish pizza.

      (You know who else tried packing too many memes into one sentence until it was no longer funny?)

    4. If you have a pregnant wife or family member, these images may inspire some pants-shitty next time mosquitos start buzzing around.

      http://www.google.com/search?q=zika+b…..DTUQsAQIGw

      1. Shortly after my daughter was born, there was an outbreak of Dengue Fever in Bangkok. Common sense measures were taken to protect her. Pants were not shat.

          1. The Seat of HM’s Pants in the Time of Dengue

  10. There is nothing wrong with a little head.

    1. I’m not trying to create safe space here for babies with deformities and the mothers who love them, but that’s probably the worst joke I’ve heard since Gilbert Gottfried made the one about the World Trade Center.

      1. I mean, I’m the king of bad jokes, myself, but that one’s reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaly bad.

    2. The little brain inside the head, on the other hand…

    3. There is nothing wrong with a little head.

      Start giving then.

  11. There are three ways to address problems in a commons: regulate them, privatize them, or ignore them. In the case of Zika privatizing won’t work,

    Muh roadz vaccinez.

  12. For more background on how to handle the medical commons, see Reason’s forum, What is the Libertarian Response to Ebola?

    Oh, Jesus Christ! What the fuck is wrong with you man?

    1. Don’t let his occasional appearance in the comments fool you – Ron loathes us and wishes to see us suffer.

    2. Does it include comments from MikeM and Papaya?

      1. It’s nothing but Tulpa over there.

        1. Whatever you say, Tulpa.

          1. Shut your noisehole, Tulpa!

  13. There are three ways to address problems in a commons: regulate them, privatize them, or ignore them.

    You’ve got blood-sucking, disease-spreading illegal immigrants literally swarming into this country and yet you can’t even bring yourself to suggest that building a really yuuge wall might be a solution? That’s just sad, really.

    1. D-

      Trump doesn’t use sentences that are that long.

      1. I don’t know how high they can fly, but on a deck 10 feet or so off the ground, they usually leave you alone.

        I assume you are working up an idea for a 2000 mile mosquito net along the border.

  14. There are three ways to address problems in a commons: regulate them, privatize them, or ignore them. In the case of Zika privatizing won’t work, although I suppose we could all drape mosquito netting or soak ourselves in DEET before going outside this summer.

    *hand waves*

    Having scientifically eliminated THAT option…

    1. The first sentence could not be more directly quoting the Book of Armaments.

      Being a man in the Northern burbs of Chicago… I’m going with a firm, “Ignore it.”

  15. Keep being you, Obama:

    These common-sense steps are not going to prevent every tragedy, but what if they prevented even one?” Obama wrote in a Facebook post. “We should be doing everything we can to save lives and spare families the pain and unimaginable loss too many Americans have endured.”

    What are the common-sense steps?

    as well as sharing mental health records with the federal background check system.

    HIPAA, we hardly knew ye.

    http://www.seattletimes.com/na…..-violence/

    1. HIPAA, we hardly knew ye.

      Well, technically, HIPAA was only really important in a private healthcare system.

    2. Yeah, awesome. I already know a few people, who could probably use some mental health treatment, who specifically avoid it because of this shit.

      1. They take your guns away in New York.

        1. Simply for getting mental health treatment, or is there some standard?

          1. It is part of the SAFE Act. A mental health professional recommends to county health officials that a person is dangerous, and if the county official agrees with the assessment they put you on a “No Guns List,” where your guns are taken away. The county health officials do not have to do an interview – I believe they almost always rely on the professional recommendation.

            The last number I saw around two years ago was over 30,000 people on the list, and I assume it has grown since then.

            1. It’s nice to be in a state where no one knows what guns you have.

  16. “Congress wants the Obama Administration to shift some funds previously appropriated for Ebola control to the fight against Zika.”

    What are they even doing with that Ebola money now that it’s not a problem?

    1. “That’s an excellent question, Lisa, and I could give you an answer, but only you and I would be able to understand it…even the teacher is too dumb to get it.”

    2. Ebola was never a problem here. However, Liberia has been declared Ebola free, three times now.

  17. “Congress wants the Obama Administration to shift some funds previously appropriated for Ebola control to the fight against Zika.”

    How about shifting funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Department of Education, and the Department of Paying Europe to Defend Itself?

    The President can save some money on the Bureau of Prisons by releasing some more nonviolent offenders.

    Just spitballing here.

    1. “The President can save some money on the Bureau of Prisons by releasing some more nonviolent offenders.”

      Impossible, they might catch Zika and then where would we be?

  18. And about that DEET. There was an article on Zika on NPR yesterday evening. They interviewed some DEET-phobic pregnant woman in Houston who was going on about how she hated to use DEET but the baby was more important. Perhaps a small ray of hope for sanity to prevail.

    1. We were camping once. Woman with a baby came over to our campsite, asking if we had anything for mosquitos. “Off” we said. She politely declined. When she left, my brother-in-law chuckled and said, “sure, there are other remedies, unfortunately, DEET is the only one that actually works.”

    2. When her baby has a tiny head, will she blame it on DEET poisoning or DEET failure?

      1. Perhaps. Yes.

    3. As I understand it, DEET is only dangerous if you ingest a good amount of it. So it might not be great to apply directly to young children. But it’s still better than malaria or zika.

      1. My advise has always been to not drink it directly from the bottle, undiluted.

        1. Seems like sound advice.

          It’s quite possibly psychosomatic, but a few times using pure DEET when I have gotten some in my mouth or put it on broken skin by accident it made me feel kind of weird and shitty for a little while.

          I remain a fan of DEET as it does seem to be the only thing that really works. Just don’t eat it.

          1. It’s been my experience that you don’t have to soak yourself in it. You can essentially wear it almost like perfume. A spot here, a spot there, and if the mosquitoes detect it, they’ll generally leave you alone. It’s not like sunscreen where if you forget a patch, you get horribly burned.

            Fun fact: I did an overland hike in the mountains once and forgot my “off”, just as evening settled the mosquitoes came out in force, thick clouds. I lit up a cigar and it was surprisingly effective in at least keeping them at bay.

            1. Yeah, tobacco smoke is pretty effective.

              I live in a prety mosquito heavy area and I find that while I don’t exactly have to soak in it, I do need to apply it pretty thoroughly in the evenings to keep them from biting.

  19. DDT works every time it is used and is available today. I know they outlawed that one thru more false science. When you know something will work but you won’t allow it to be used you have to wonder about their motives.

    1. Does it not thin the egg shells of top predator birds? I’m not saying that’s necessarily a good reason for a ban, but I thought that was legit.

      And DDT resistance in mosquito has been observed in a number of cases. Though I think that was mostly caused by agricultural use.
      If there is a dangerous disease and DDT would be effective, it should be used.

      1. DDT was essentially dumped into the environment at one point specifically because of…you guessed it…dangerous mosquito borne disease. Malaria, Typhoid, Etc.

        From Bullshitpedia:


        In 1962, Rachel Carson published the book Silent Spring. It cataloged the environmental impacts of widespread DDT spraying in the United States and questioned the logic of releasing large amounts of potentially dangerous chemicals into the environment without understanding their effects on the environment or human health. The book claimed that DDT and other pesticides had been shown to cause cancer and that their agricultural use was a threat to wildlife, particularly birds. Its publication was a seminal event for the environmental movement and resulted in a large public outcry that eventually led, in 1972, to a ban on its agricultural use in the United States.

        The takeaway? DDT was dumped into the environment wholesale from at least the mid 1940’s until the 1970’s. How did birds survive for 30 years when that likely represents dozens of generations? I dunno, maybe they didn’t. I’d have to read Silent Spring.

        1. Oh, and DDT is still so god damn effective that places who have serious risk factors for mosquito borne disease still to this day say ‘fuck it’ and use DDT despite international bans.

          1. I believe the bans do have explicit exceptions for disease vector control. But DDT isn’t magic and insects can develop resistance, so it might be a good thing to save for really serious stuff when you need something you know will work.

            Also, regarding the effects on birds, no one claimed that it outright killed birds. It just made them less successful reproducing. Limits on it’s use are probably a good part of the reason why there are a lot more eagles around than there were 40 years ago.

        2. I think that Peregrine falcons and bald eagles and some other birds did decline quite a bit in those years. I could have some bad info, but as far as I know it’s true.

          I am not trying to justify the ban at all, though. I just like to get the facts straight, even if they don’t support how I would like things to be. As much as I love wildlife, I’d trade a few bird species for the elimination of some deadly human diseases.

          And Silent Spring is definitely bullshit. I don’t know how people still think that Carson is some hero. She was talking about more than just DDT and most of the other things never stopped being used and spring is still plenty noisy.

  20. Libertarians and the Zika Virus

    I saw them open for Weezer in Fort Worth, June 1997. They killed it.

  21. Zika has been around for a long time, and is a mild infection. The link to microcephaly is based on weak evidence. It does seem as if there is a public health issue in northeast Brazil. It may be associated with increased incidence or virulence of Zika, and/or increased incidence of serious birth defects, but that is by no means clear.

    Microcephaly means “small head.” The vast majority of babies born with small heads are fine. The reported rates of microcephaly in northeastern Brazil shot up only after public health authorities issued calls to report it. Moreover they shot up from implausibly low levels to about the US rate, and there is no statistical association with Zika infection.

    On the other hand, the number of serious birth defects in northeastern Brazil seems to have increased, and many of the affected babies had small heads. There also seems to be an increase in some kind of flu-like disease that has long-lasting but mild symptoms. This is all we know.

    The next few months will clarify the picture. My unprofessional guess is 80% this is another in panic that disappates upon investigation, 15% that there’s a serious but contained and manageable public health issue for poor people in a relatively small area and 5% that this is an issue that will cause significant damage in a wider area even to healthy people with good health care. There’s zero percent chance that any of the money for fighting Zika will be repaid.

  22. I am making $89/hour working from home. I never thought that it was legitimate but my best friend is earning $10 thousand a month by working online, that was really surprising for me, she recommended me to try it. just try it out on the following website.

    ??? http://www.NetNote70.com

  23. Even with a vaccine developed, the anti-vaxxers will complain day and night, scaring the hell out of people, keeping them from protecting themselves and their loved ones. You can never win against the Luddites. They generally enjoy vilifying things, with no solid evidence, and then have the gall to proclaim that they are the scientific ones.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.