Documents show 28 reports of bed bugs in KU dorms over past 6 years; 12 confirmed

By Austin Geisinger
Contributing Writer

There were 28 reports of bed bugs in university dorms over the past six years and 12 of those were confirmed, according to records obtained from the KU Facilities Department.

The records, obtained through a Right-to-Know Law request, showed two reports in 2012, three reports in 2013, eight reports in 2014, and seven reports in 2015. They also show three reports in 2016, three in 2017 and two so far this year.

Of those reports, there were eight confirmed cases in 2014, two confirmed cases in 2016, one confirmed case on 2017, and two confirmed cases in 2018, according to the records. There were no confirmed cases in 2012, 2013 or 2015.

In 2013, work order reports from Home Paramount Pest Control—the company used by KU for bug extermination—show two reports of bed bugs in Golden Bear Village South Building 80. In 2014, Rothermel Hall had three confirmed reports, University Place had one, and Dixon Hall had one, according to a work order report from the Facilities Department.

The work order reports further show that in 2016, Deatrick Hall (renovated in 2017), had a confirmed report of bed bugs along with Dixon Hall as well. In 2017, Golden Bear Village South Building 10 had one confirmed report of bed bugs in addition to a confirmed report in Dixon Hall.

Kutztown’s Director of Housing and Dining Services, Kenneth Dahlquist, stated that department officials “… take bed bugs extremely seriously.”

“We go above and beyond the standard set by Home Paramount, our contracted exterminator,” said Jason Garcia, Associate Director of Housing and Facilities at Kutztown University. “Usually they ask us to move out the resident of the one room; we actually go over their standard. We’re very quick at responding. I’ve done research at what other schools do and they don’t come close to what we do here.”

Dahlquist said the reports mostly have occurred well into the semester.

“We never had a case at the beginning of the semester,” he said. “It’s always been pretty much into the semester. This leads you to believe they were brought in by a guest or somebody in the room.”

Several students who reported complaints about bed bugs to the university declined to comment on the record for this story.

Housing officials said they make it a point to clean every room after students leave and then once more after summer conferences and camps before students come back in the fall. Students who need to clean their clothing are given $40 each to go to an off-campus cleaning location, Garcia said.

“Dry cleaners are at a much higher heat then the ones on campus because they are industrial,” he said.

When students report a bed bug infestation or possible bites, they are asked to report to their building director, who in turn gives them a survey sheet to be taken with them to KU’s Health and Wellness Center. There, the Health Center examines if the bites are from bed bugs and reports the findings to Housing.

According to William Lendzinski, Assistant Director of Clinical Services at the Health and Wellness Center, bed bug bites may cause allergic reactions, but he has never seen an allergic reaction from a student on campus with a bed bug bite. Those with a bug bite may find an “L-shape” on their skin, Lendzinski said.

“There has been no documentation from the CDC about diseases from bed bugs,” he said.

Garcia and Dahlquist explained that they take into consideration the surrounding rooms when they have a confirmed report in a room. They may decide on cleaning all the rooms next door, or above and below the room. They said it all depends on what their contracted exterminator says.

“We have done nine rooms before in a tic-tac-toe direction,” said Dahlquist

Another PASSHE school, Bloomsburg University, had 49 reports in a seven year span from 2011 to 2018, according documents obtained from Bloomsburg Housing via a Right-to-Know Law request. Millersville University had four confirmed cases from 2014 to 2016, although the dormitories that contained bed bugs are either not currently in use or have been demolished prior to 2018, according to documents obtained from Housing Department at Millersville.

According to Garcia, bed bugs are a “sensitive subject.” Kutztown does not want to create a panic where one confirmed report turns into 30 false reports.

“We don’t want a spread of false rumors going around,” said Garcia

Dahlquist stated that Housing does not ask that students don’t talk about their reports of bed bugs, but they caution that it’s a sensitive subject.

“We talk to students about the importance of really trying to keep the information localized the best you can. But they wouldn’t have to listen to us,” Dahlquist said. “The main reason is because of the misunderstanding and misconception of bed bugs in our society.”

Bed Bugs Can Transmit the Chagas Disease Parasite

The parasite is usually associated with Latin and South America, but was recently found throughout Louisiana, too
bug
A bed bug surrounded by potentially parasite-laden feces. (Photo: Penn Medicine/Robert Press)
smithsonian.com

Having insects crawl all over your face and body and bite you while you sleep is a nightmare. For anyone with bedbugs, it’s also a reality. It’s bad enough to provide a nocturnal meal to a six-legged blood sucker. But for many, that experience delivers even more than phobia: it could be deadly.

We already know that some night-time creepers, including mosquitoes and kissing bugs, can transmit life-threatening maladies like malaria or Chagas disease. But still others, researchers found, while not natural vectors of disease, can be trasmitters, if given the chance. Bed bugs—normally just disgust-inducing pests—can becomes a bedroom-dwelling army of disease carriers when they acquire and transmit Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite that causes Chagas disease. Those were the findings of a new paper published in American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Chagas disease is a top killer in Central and South America, and until now, its parasite was only known to be carried by kissing bugs. These bugs creep into a person’s bed at night, often biting them around the mouth (hence their name).

While enjoying its meal, the kissing bug will often defecate. Later, the bite begins to itch, and the person might scratch or rub it in her sleep, smearing the potentially parasite-teeming poop into the wound. If T. cruzi parasites are present, she might develop Chagas disease, which usually kills its victims years later through sudden heart disease or digestive failure.

 

Kissing bugs, however, have another blood-loving, bedroom-creeping cousin: the bed bug. Given the recent uptick of bed bug infestations, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Peru wondered if bed bugs might be similar enough to their deadly cousins to also transmit the disease. (Some decades-old past studies also investigated this question, but they focused on mice that ate bed bugs, not bed bugs that feasted on mammals.)

In laboratory experiments, the researchers allowed 3,000 bedbugs to feast on T. cruzi-infected mice. After a month, the majority of the bed bugs turned up positive for T. cruzi—which was not shy about taking up residence in a new species’ gut. As one of the researchers commented in a release: “I’ve never seen so many parasites in an insect.”

Next, the researchers allowed those infected bed bugs to feed on uninfected mice. After another month, nine out of 12 of the mice had developed an infection themselves. Finally, they found that mice can develop the disease when they have a small open wound that comes into contact with infected bed bug feces. (Bed bugs, by the way, also defecate while they feed.)

The researchers’ next step is to try and find out whether or not some bed bugs in the wild (i.e., our homes) are already infected with T. cruzi, and if not, how likely this scenario is to come to pass. Unfortunately, this is something that actually could happen, they point out. An estimated 300,000 people in the U.S. are now positive for Chagas disease, and the T. cruzi parasite can also live in pets.

And, researchers from Loyola University New Orleans recently found that, of 49 kissing bugs collected from around Louisiana, 40 percent were positive for T. cruzi. Tree frogs were the most common meal for those bugs, but humans were second. The problem will probably only worsen in the future: Some studies predict that the kissing bug’s range in the U.S. will expand as the climate warms.

So between kissing bugs, bed bugs and climate change, the U.S. might be poised to become a lot more familiar with Chagas disease than it has been in the past. As the bed bug authors note, bed bugs “are already here—in our homes, in our beds and in high numbers. What we found has thrown a wrench in the way I think about transmission, and where Chagas disease could emerge next.”

Environmental impact of pesticide overuse

Updated May 07, 2018
FARMERS spray pesticide over cotton crop in Faisalabad. —APP/file photo
FARMERS spray pesticide over cotton crop in Faisalabad. —APP/file photo

AMERICAN marine biologist Rachel Carson published her classic and landmark book, Silent Spring, in 1962 on the adverse health effects of pesticides. She focused on those pesticides, including dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), which were aerially sprayed to control insect populations on a large scale.

During the last 56 years, Silent Spring has been extensively referred to and served as a public warning on the indiscriminate use of pesticides. However, DDT is still used as a pesticide despite an official ban.

Pakistan has two regulations that govern the use of pesticides: Agricultural Pesticides Ordinance of 1971, and Agricultural Pesticides Rules of 1973. However, pesticide use in the country is widespread.

The impact of pesticide overuse is felt far away from the fields where it is applied. A recent study conducted jointly in November last year by the scientists of Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, and Lancaster University, UK, found that dust in and around Lahore contains pesticides that pose a health risk to residents. Prominent pesticides detected were chlorpyrifos and diazinon.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are an estimated three million cases of pesticide poisoning each year which lead to nearly 220,000 deaths, primarily in developing countries.

There are an estimated three million cases of pesticide poisoning each year, according to the World Health Organisation

Children are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of pesticides. Even very low levels of exposure during a child’s development will have adverse health effects. About 400,000 are poisoned every year owing to pesticide handling and usage.

Organochlorines are normally persistent, that is they stay in the environment for a relatively long time and have long residual effects.

DDT, which falls under the group of organochlorines, stays in the environment for a long time. However, the length of persistence varies with climatic conditions. The rate of degradation is hastened under tropical climate as compared to temperate climate.

The WHO has established a classification system, based on the degree of hazardousness. One can see from the classification, for example, how dangerous the class of “extremely hazardous” is.

Newspaper reports show that the use of banned pesticides is continuing in Pakistan. For example, the manufacturing, sale and use of 34 pesticides and chemicals that were banned some 15 years ago continue in Vehari district and adjoining areas.

Pesticides cause soil contamination. The toxic effluent discharged from pesticide manufacturing sites in the shape of liquid discharge and air emissions are harmful to water bodies and public health.

Large-scale use of pesticides also causes water pollution. Besides, water containing high levels of pesticides is difficult to treat by conventional water treatment systems.

Most pesticides contain carrier substances, in addition to active ingredients. These “inert ingredients” are usually not shown on the labels. Quite often, the adverse effects of these inert ingredients can surpass that of active ingredients. Examples are chloroform and carbon tetrachloride, which are highly toxic to humans.

A possible rational approach to pest control is the well-known concept of integrated pest management (IPM), which calls for a multidimensional approach to address the issue.

The official definition of IPM provided by the European Union Framework Directive on the Sustainable Use of pesticides (Directive 2009/128/EC) is:

“Integrated pest management means careful consideration of all available plant protection methods and subsequent integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of populations of harmful organisms and keep the use of plant protection products and other forms of intervention to levels that are economically and ecologically justified and reduce or minimise risks to human health and the environment. ‘Integrated pest management’ emphasises the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms.”

In their 2015 study, Barzman and colleagues suggested eight principles of IPM: prevention and suppression; monitoring; decision based on monitoring and thresholds; non-chemical methods; pesticide selection; reduced pesticide use; anti-resistance strategies; and evaluation.

Woman Poisons Parents And Daughter, Killing Them, To Live Freely With Lover

By @ZiggyZina143 

 

A woman from Kerala, India, accused of killing her parents and two children, was arrested Tuesday. The Thalasserry principal sessions court approved an order to remand the woman in police custody for four days Wednesday.

“It took almost 10 hours of questioning to unravel the murder plot. We asked for five-day custody but the court granted us four days,” Kannur deputy SP, PP Sadanandan said, Hindustan Times reported. According to a few reports, it took the police 13 hours to unravel the complicated murder plot that was hatched by the suspect.

Finally, after prolonged questioning, 34-year-old Soumya confessed she did poison her father, Kunhikannan, 76, mother, Kamala, 68, and her eight-year-old daughter, Aishwarya, because they were “impediments to her wayward life.” Soumya had a younger daughter — Keerthana — who died at age of one in 2012. However, Soumya denied having to do anything with her death.

According to the police, Soumya had separated from her husband and lived with her parents and children in Pinarayi, a village in Kannur district, Kerala. Both her parents and her elder daughter had displayed similar symptoms — nausea and indigestion — before their death.

Soumya’s elder daughter died on Jan 13, her mother died on March 7, her father passed away on April 13. The suspect was taken into custody after she was admitted to the Thalaserry Co-operative Hospital, a state-run facility, for the treatment of similar symptoms that claimed the lives of three of her family members. Soumya might have gotten admitted to the hospital to avoid suspicion, the police suspect.

A forensic examination of the bodies of her parents revealed the acute presence of aluminium phosphide, a poisonous substance, which is commonly used in pesticides and rat poison in India.

After Aishwarya died, her body was allegedly buried inside the premises of their residence near Pinarayi, without post-mortem. After the deadly chemicals were discovered inside Soumya’s parents’ bodies, the relatives and neighbors voiced their suspicions to the investigators who exhumed the body of the eight-year-old Monday. Her body has been sent for post-mortem, Deccan Chronicle reported.

The police said the suspect confessed that she wanted to “lead a new life with her lover” and that is why she had killed her parents and daughter. According to her, Soumya’s elder daughter had witnessed some intimate moments with her new lover and reported it to her grandparents.

Soumya also added once her elder daughter’s murder went unnoticed, she became emboldened and hatched a plan to kill her parents too.

Incidentally, Pinarayi, the village where the incident took place, is also where Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan used to live before relocating to Trivandrum with his family after being sworn into state office. It was only after his intervention that the police sped up their investigation and uncovered the truth, Financial Express reported.

Inmate A woman from Kerala, India, accused of killing her parents and two children, has been arrested. In this photo, an inmate holds onto a fence during the Angola Prison Rodeo at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, April 23, 2006. Photo: Getty Images/ Mario Tama

 

What’s really in your lease? A warning for USH residents

Maria Marabito, Staff Writer

When signing paperwork, no one ever looks at the fine print. People usually just flip through the papers, eyes glazing over all the clauses being agreed to, trying to find that black dotted line. Every contract has the same basic information, right? Why waste the time analyzing every page? Wrong! In every official document you sign, there is vital information within the fine print. One agreement that many West Chester students have to sign includes the leasing agreement. Students just out of high school, excited for the prospect of living on their own for the first time, sign the leasing agreement without a second thought or glance. Take a closer look at the fine print though and you will find some shocking specifications in your lease that all students should read before signing on that dotted line.

One of the most significant yet usually unknown conditions included in your USH lease is the Bed Bug provision (clause 4H in the 2018-19 Lease). This clause states the following:

“Tenant must inspect the Unit for bed bugs within 48 hours after moving in. If Tenant does not notify Landlord of bed bugs within 48 hours, then Tenant agrees that no presence or infestation of bed bugs exists.

During the Term, Tenant must report evidence of bed bugs to Landlord immediately. If there is a report of possible bed bugs, then Landlord will provide a licensed pest control service (a PSC) to inspect the Unit. If the PCS does not find a bed bug infestation, no further action will be taken. If the PCS does find evidence of bed bugs, the Unit will be treated. Tenant is responsible for all PCS costs and fees.

Tenant agrees to fully cooperate with Landlord and to follow all instructions to treat and eliminate bed bugs. This includes Tenant having their personal property (including clothing, bedding, and furniture) treated according to approved methods, which will be at the Tenant’s own expense. Any items removed from the Unit must be disposed of off-site.

If Landlord confirms the presence of bed bugs in Tenant’s Unit, Landlord has the right to temporarily relocate the Tenant. If Tenant is temporarily relocated, Tenant must remove all their belongings, at Tenant’s expense. Tenant’s rent will not be reduced because of the presence of bed bugs or a temporary relocation.”

Now, no one expects they will ever have to deal with bed bugs, but sometimes life throws unexpected things—or critters—your way. It does not matter how clean your room is—bed bugs can come in from anywhere. With the thousands of dollars USH residents pay, many students would expect that emergency situations, such as bed bugs, would be covered under the hefty expense, but this is not the case. If you are unlucky enough to experience a bed bug problem, not only do you have to undergo the stress of getting rid of them, but you may also have to pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket for a problem that could have come from anywhere. More residents need to be aware of this provision before signing the leasing agreement so that they can be prepared if they find themselves in this unfortunate situation.

Another disturbing provision USH residents unsuspectingly agree to is the Release of Liability (clause 7B):

“Tenant is releasing (giving up) the right to sue Landlord if Landlord is negligent, and as a result of Landlord’s negligence, there is property damage, injury, or loss of life. Tenant agrees not to sue Landlord for this.

Tenant’s release includes giving up any claim that Landlord is liable for any:

a. fire, accident, injury, death or property damage or theft at the Facility;

b. delayed delivery, damage, or loss to Tenant’s mail;

c. criminal or wrongful act at the Facility;

d. conflict between Tenant and another person at the Facility;

e. failure to provide Tenant with a service required under this Lease, including but not limited to telephone, cable TV, telephone service, internet service or any other similar service; or

f. malfunction of machinery, appliances, or equipment serving the Premises or Facility.”

I was very taken aback when I read this clause. This small provision packs a monumental punch. Many residents do not realize that they agree to “giving up any claim that the Landlord is liable for any fire, accident, injury, death, property damage or theft.” Now, death is extremely rare in the case of student housing; injury and theft seem more plausible. Since most residents skipped to the last page of their lease and signed away their life—quite literally—they gave up all rights to fight if anything were to happen. Did you realize what you were agreeing to?

With this school year quickly coming to an end, many students are finalizing their housing plans for next year. Before you sign, seal and deliver, take a closer look at the lease you are authorizing: there just might be some startling stipulations you need to be attentive to.

Maria Marabito is a first-year student majoring in English writings track. ✉ MM883631@wcupa.edu.

 

Renting: Who brought the bedbugs? And who pays to get rid of them?

By KELLY KLEIN | Kelly Klein

Q: My roommate and I have bedbugs in our duplex. We both noticed them the day we moved in. We have no idea how they got into our unit. I let our landlord know about the bedbugs. He told me that we are responsible for the cost of extermination. Is this true?

A: Under Minnesota law, all landlords have a duty to keep the place fit, in reasonable repair and in compliance with health and safety laws, except when the disrepair or violation of health and safety laws is caused by the willful, malicious or irresponsible conduct of the tenant.

Neither your landlord nor you as the tenant can waive or modify this duty or promise in the lease. For example, the landlord cannot put a clause in the lease stating that tenants are responsible for removing bedbugs or any other infestation. If such a clause exists, it is unenforceable.

Bedbug elimination is dealt with like any other repair; your landlord must cover the expense unless the tenant intentionally, maliciously or through irresponsible conduct is at fault for the infestation. Assuming you didn’t intentionally or maliciously bring in bedbugs (difficult to do or prove) that leaves only irresponsible conduct. Minnesota courts have held that merely being the person who brought the bedbugs in doesn’t qualify as irresponsible conduct. The landlord must show that the tenant did something irresponsible, such as bringing in furniture that was infested with bedbugs. If the tenant acted irresponsibly, then the tenant pays for the bedbug removal. While landlords are required to pay for bedbug treatment, they typically are not required to pay for the loss of the tenant’s personal property unless the tenant can show the landlord was negligent.

If you have questions or need assistance, you should contact HomeLine, a tenants’ rights organization, at 612-728-5767 if you live in the metro area, or 1-866-866-3546 if you live in outstate Minnesota. If your landlord gives you an invoice for bedbug extermination, you should complete the form on HomeLine’s website (https://homelinemn.org/form-letters/response-to-invoice-for-bed-bug-treatment/), and submit it to your landlord.

Pet fees for support animals?

Q: We own some rental properties, and our lease specifies that if the renter has pets, there is a $50 monthly fee added to their rent. We have some new renters who just moved in with two cats. They showed us papers from the Humane Society stating that their cats are emotional support pets. They claim we cannot charge extra rent for their cats. Is this true?

A: The Federal Fair Housing Act requires that landlords make a “reasonable accommodation” for both service and emotional support animals, except in certain limited exceptions, such as when the animal is too large or the apartment is located in an owner-occupied building of four or fewer units. Emotional support animals may be untrained, unregistered members of several animal species, including dogs, cats, rabbits and birds, that provide some therapeutic benefit to their owners. These animals often serve as a companion for those suffering from the effects of certain mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression. The problem for landlords is the occurrence of fraud regarding tenants’ emotional support animals.

 

Under the Fair Housing Act, a landlord has the right to ask for proper documentation from tenants to prove they are in need of their emotional support animal’s service. The document may be in the form of a letter from a mental health professional, which includes licensed therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists. A family doctor is not considered a licensed mental health professional. In addition, the documented letter must be signed and printed on a mental health professional’s official letterhead. Even though your tenants showed you their cats’ certification papers from the Humane Society, you can ask your tenants for written proof from a mental health professional. Remember, you can ask for written proof of their disability, but you cannot ask your tenants about their disability or ask for their medical records.
If your new tenants’ cats are emotional support animals, you are allowed to charge a security deposit, but you may not charge extra rent or any pet-related deposit or fee. You may also seek money from your tenants for any damages caused by the cats to your rental home or apartment.
Kelly Klein is a Minneapolis attorney. Participation in this column does not create an attorney/client relationship with Klein. Do not rely on advice in this column for legal opinions. Consult an attorney regarding your particular issues. E-mail renting questions to kklein@kleinpa.com, or write to Kelly Klein c/o Star Tribune, 650 3rd Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488. Information provided by readers is not confidential.

JAPANESE GOVERNMENT ENDS YEAR-LONG PESTICIDE POISONING TEST ON DOGS

Japanese Government Ends Year-Long Pesticide Poisoning Test on Dogs
Kat Smith

Editorial Assistant, LIVEKINDLY | New York City | Contactable via: kat@livekindly.com

 

The Japanese government will no longer conduct year-long poisoning tests for pesticides on dogs, it announced this month.

The one-year program was developed in order to test the toxicity of agrochemicals. According to Humane Society International (HSI), the tests subjugate groups of beagles to daily doses of pesticides in order to gauge the toxicity to humans. Dogs involved are either fed capsules or food laced with a pesticide or forced to inhale fumes for one year, after which they are killed and dissected in order to examine the effect on their internal organs. According to Rescue + Freedom Project, a non-profit that focuses on rescuing and rehabilitating survivors of laboratory experiments and other forms of animal exploitation, beagles are the preferred choice of animal for experiments such as these due to their gentle, trusting, and submissive nature.

Not only is the year-long experiment cruel, it is effectively useless, contributing nothing to the betterment of humanity. A report commissioned by the Japanese Food Safety Commission revealed that in nearly 95 percent of the tests, the experiments did not contribute any new understanding of pesticide dosage in relation to humans. This conclusion was identical to a similar study conducted in 2014. Additionally, there is a growing body of scientific literature that proves that in an overwhelming majority of cases, animal testing is useless, essentially. In its place, animal-free testing methods for potentially dangerous chemicals have also been developed by the scientific community, eliminating the need to test on animals.

Both PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and HSI, along with the activist group Japan Anti-Vivisection Association have been working to see an end to the one-year pesticide testing. Now that the Japanese government dog testing has ended, the country joins United States, India, the European Union, Brazil, and Canadain eliminating the test. South Korea is believed to be the last major market to still require the test, according to HSI. “We commend the Japanese government for eliminating this unnecessary and inhumane test from its pesticide data requirements, but are disappointed that it has taken some countries nearly 20 years to take action despite compelling scientific evidence,” said Troy Seidle, HSI vice president for research & toxicology.

Japan’s ban will effectively save the lives of millions of beagles from animal testing each year. According to statistics published by the Japanese Society for Laboratory Animal Resources a total of 4.25 million animals were sold for laboratory experiments in Japan between April 2016 and March 2017, not including the number of animals bred on labs or all facilities that breed for animal testing.

While once thought of as a reliable method of testing the safety of chemicals, animal testing has fallen out of favor with a majority of consumers, who now opt for cruelty-free options for cosmetics, personal care, household cleaners, and more. In a 2011 survey conducted by the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, 72 percentof respondents indicated that they think animal experiments are unethical, while as of last year, the Humane Society of the United States reported that nearly 40 countrieshave banned animal testing for cosmetics.

Peter Hotez On “The Most Important Diseases You’ve Never Heard Of”

Despite the rapid pace of medical advancements like gene therapy, treating many of the world’s most devastating diseases is a matter of economics and political will, not science. That’s according to Dr. Peter Hotez, the dean of Baylor University’s National School of Tropical Medicine.

Hotez says this is particularly true for a group of parasitic and bacterial infections collectively known as Neglected Tropical Diseases, or NTD’s. These diseases, says Hotez, have more to do with economics than climate.

“They’re not even rare diseases. They’re very common,” Hotez said. “ But they’re hidden. They’re hidden among the poor.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than one billion people — approximately one-sixth of the world’s population — suffer from at least one NTD. These diseases, which range from Dengue Fever to Leprosy, don’t always lead to death. But their effects can last a lifetime.

“They tend to be chronic and debilitating infections,” Hotez said. “So they not only encourage the setting of poverty, but they reinforce poverty.”

Hotez and other global health leaders have devised low-cost public health interventions to treat and prevent NTD;s in the poorest regions of the world. Their success has changed the global distribution of these diseases.

“Now, possibly because of the intervention, most of the world’s poverty-related neglected diseases are not necessarily the poorest, most devastated countries of sub-Saharan Africa. They’re certainly there, but on a numbers basis most of the world’s NTD’s are in the poor living in wealthy countries,” Hotez said. In his most recent book, “Blue Marble Health,” Hotez estimates 12 million Americans living at the poverty level currently suffer from at least one NTD.

In addition to tackling NTDs in countries like the United States, Hotez is taking on yet another public health crisis in the developed world: the anti-vaccine movement. His forthcoming book, “Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism,” delves into the neurobiology of autism, in hopes of undoing false associations between vaccines and the disorder.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

Hotez on why he decided to coin the term “Neglected Tropical Diseases”:

The term rose out of the Millennium Development Goals. Back in the year 2000, when all global leaders assembled to U.N. headquarters to address the bottom billion and look at poverty reduction… Of the eight goals was one that was specifically tackling infectious diseases, and that was to combat AIDS, malaria and other diseases… And, believe it or not, you didn’t see Bono and Angie Jolie taking on “other diseases.” So we went about and embarked on our branding exercise to identify them and classify them as NTD’s, or Neglected Tropical Diseases, in order to identify them as important targets for intervention.

Hotez on “Vaccine Diplomacy”:

Our research laboratories at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital are focused on developing new vaccines for Neglected Tropical Diseases…. And over the last 20 years we’ve built up an extraordinary research group of about 50 scientists that are developing these vaccines, so we have the ability to teach others how to do what we’re doing, as opposed to, if you’re running a big multinational pharmaceutical company, you know a Merck or Pfizer. You can’t walk into Merck or Pfizer and say teach us how to make a vaccine, but we can.

It’s a concept that really began, in my opinion, when Albert Sabin …who discovered the oral polio vaccine. Now, many people don’t realize that he actually did this jointly with the Soviets at the height of the Cold War… So the idea is two countries setting aside their ideologies to work together for making lifesaving interventions.

Hotez on his upcoming book, “Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism”:

There’s not only no link between vaccines and autism, there’s no plausibility…We’ve learned so much about the neurobiology of autism in the last few years. It can show that the changes in the brains of kids on the autism spectrum are beginning prenatally in the prefrontal cortex and temporal lobe, before the baby’s born, well before they ever see vaccine.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Rebecca Cruise: Peter Hotez, welcome to World Views.

Peter Hotez: Thanks for having me today.

Cruise: Well, you are a medical doctor that focuses on tropical diseases. And let me start by asking what’s probably a very obvious question, but what do we mean by tropical diseases? Is this simply diseases that seem to come about in tropical areas? Or hot areas? Or what are we talking about here?

Hotez: Well historically that’s right. They were. The term originated out of European colonization of Africa and Asia, and to some extent Latin America. And they still today tend to refer to diseases of what we call the global south, meaning Africa Asia and Latin America, but it’s really changed a lot. And in one of the terms that we help framework that we help develop the concept of what we call Neglected Tropical Diseases or NTD’s, and these are some of the most common afflictions of people living in Africa Asia and Latin America.

Hotez: But, you know really, more than warm climate, it’s poverty that’s the overriding factor associated with these diseases. These are the diseases of the world’s poor, what we used to call the bottom billion– the billion people in the world who live on no money. And an important feature about these diseases, neglected tropical diseases or NTD’s, is they tend to be chronic and debilitating infections. So they not only encouraged the setting of poverty but they reinforced poverty. They make people too sick to go to work. They shave IQ points off of children. They affect pregnancy outcome. So an important rationale for taking on these diseases is not only for humanitarian reasons but also economic reasons. This is… by treating these diseases or preventing them through vaccines is actually a very potent anti anti-poverty measure.

Cruise: So many of these diseases could be prevented or could be treated under the right circumstances. But because of the socio-economics in these areas, they have far-reaching consequences.

Cruise: And you call them neglected. Are they neglected because they seem to afflict the poor? Are there racial issues here? Or what’s what’s the reason that this neglected term has become so used?

Hotez: Well, the term rose out of the Millennium Development Goals. Back in the year 2000 when all global leaders assembled to U.N. headquarters to address the bottom billion and look at poverty reduction there was, of the eight goals was one that was specifically tackling infectious diseases, and that was to combat AIDS malaria and other diseases. And this is what led to President George W. Bush creating PEPFAR, the President’s Plan For AIDS Relief, that put people on anti-retroviral drugs, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS… They added tuberculosis and malaria.

But there was kind of a flaw in that they had that third component of that goal was other diseases, and believe it or not you didn’t see Bono and Angie Jolie taking on other diseases. So we went about and embarked on our branding exercise to identify them and classify them as NTD’s or Neglected Tropical Diseases in order to identify them as important targets for intervention.

Cruise: So what are some of these neglected diseases? Or are these going to be names that we’re going to recognize, or are they so neglected that we may not have even heard of them?

Hotez: I like to call them the most important diseases you’ve never heard of. So they include diseases such as Intestinal Roundworm Infection or Ascariasis, Hookworm Infection or Schistosomiasis, Lymphatic Filariasis which is also known as Elephantiasis… The point is every single person living in extreme poverty has at least one of these diseases. So really all of the bottom billion are affected and now according to the World Bank we have about 750 million people living below the poverty line globally. They’re all infected with these parasitic and related neglected tropical diseases.

Cruise: And I imagine as we also see a rise in migration from some of these areas there’s also the potential for some of this to spread.

Hotez: Well one of the things that we did was help conceive of this package of medicines, and the medicines were being donated by the major pharmaceutical companies. We assembled them together in what’s called a rapid impact package that’s now been administered to more than a billion people. And the package can be delivered for only 40 cents a person per year. So it’s one of the most cost effective and widely used public health interventions that’s out there right now.

So that’s the good news part of the story, but it’s the not so good news it’s like peeling away the layers of an onion, so you solve one problem and then you only to find another one, and one of our most recent findings which was…so the first book I wrote was about these diseases called “Forgotten People, Forgotten Diseases,” the second book which came out in 2016 is called “Blue Marble health,” and I find something quite interesting which is that now, possibly because of the intervention, most of the world’s poverty related neglected diseases are not necessarily the poorest most devastated countries of sub-Saharan Africa. They’re certainly there, but on a numbers basis most of the world’s NTD’s are in the poor living in wealthy countries,  in G-20 countries. So the G-20 economies now account for most of the world’s parasitic worm infections, leishmaniasis, and Chagas disease and Tuberculosis, and Dengue, and leprosy, and the list goes on.

And so that’s… Has a lot of policy implications, because it says, if it’s true that it’s the poorest of the rich now account for most of these diseases, the policy implication is that if the G-20 leaders would redouble efforts for their own vulnerable neglected populations we could have a huge impact on getting rid of these diseases.

Cruise: So they’re not getting resources in the G-20?

Hotez: Well, for instance, you know one of the real surprising, profound findings of the book is the hidden poverty and disease right here in the United States especially in the southern United States. So in the book  I estimate there’s 12 million Americans now living with neglected tropical disease…

Cruise: 12 million in this country…

Hotez: So they’re not even rare diseases. They’re very common. But they’re hidden. They’re hidden among the poor so we have no way of finding hookworm infection in Alabama, and probably other southern states. We’re finding widespread Chagas disease transmission among the poor in Texas. Leishmaniasis in Texas, and even in Oklahoma now. But it’s been really tough to raise awareness about these diseases, so one of the big disappointments we’ve had is I had a lot of success getting people to care about neglected tropical diseases in the poorest countries of Asia and Africa. But when I talk about neglected diseases of the poor in the US the lights go out. People…people don’t either want to don’t want to hear the story,  or don’t really, can’t really get their arms around. We seem to have a lack of care about people who live in extreme poverty in this country.

Cruise: Well certainly is the gap between the rich and the poor in the country continues to widen, as we’ve seen, I would imagine that this will continue to be a problem and perhaps even grow.

Hotez: Well for example you know there’s a big push now towards this concept of precision medicine and being able to use genomic data in order to fine-tune interventions. And I think that’s great. It has its important to advance medical science. But I think it comes at a price as well. I think could increase the differential between the haves and the have-nots even further.

Cruise: Now one of the things that you did recently you’ve had a very interesting career, about something that has particularly stood out is that during the Obama administration you served as special envoy focusing on vaccine diplomacy. What is vaccine diplomacy?

Hotez: So it’s another term that I helped coin and it goes something like this: So one of my, my… My most of my day job is spent actually heading a research group that’s developing vaccines for neglected tropical diseases. So our research laboratories at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital are focused on developing new vaccines for disease for these neglected tropical diseases, for schistosomiasis, and hookworm, and Chagas disease and leishmaniasis and so forth. And over, over the last 20 years we’ve built up an extraordinary research group of about 50 scientists that are developing these vaccines so we have the ability to teach others how to do what we’re doing, as opposed to, if you’re running a big multinational pharmaceutical company, you know a Merck or Pfizer, you can’t walk into Merck or Pfizer say teach us how to make a vaccine, but we can. So we’re trying to spread this by saying we are now going to work with countries that have no capacity for doing vaccine development and help them to do that.

And one of the big hot zones now for new world’s neglected tropical diseases is the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa and partly because of the wars and conflicts there. They’ve collapsed the public health structure. So we’ve had a massive resurgence of Neglected Tropical Diseases in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. And there’s no… zero vaccine development capacity in those countries, so I took on this role to help other countries learn how to develop vaccines. And it’s a concept that really began in my opinion when Albert Sabin who discovered the oral polio vaccine. Now, many people don’t realize that he actually did this jointly with the Soviets at the height of the Cold War. So at a time when tensions between the U.S. and the USSR was at an all-time high, Sabin was sent to the USSR, to the Soviet Union, to actually work with Russian scientists to jointly develop the oral polio vaccine, and it was tested on 10 million Soviet schoolchildren and shown to be safe and effective. And that’s what ultimately led to licensure of the oral polio vaccine now being used to eradicate polio worldwide. So the idea is two countries setting aside their ideologies to work together for making lifesaving interventions and and trying to apply that to a modern day situation that we face in the Middle East than elsewhere.

Cruise: So very much diplomacy in the sense that we would think about it, just focusing in on health… It’s so interesting, too, that you’ve been looking at some of these diseases in countries, the Middle East, war- torn areas, but the vaccine issue is a much larger one. And it seems to be interesting that as some are pushing to get more vaccines in developing parts of the world, in the developed world or the global north there seems to be a new debate in the last decade or so, kind of the anti-vaccine philosophy that’s come forward. and we’ve seen diseases that we thought were at least a quieted, or perhaps eradicated, starting to come back. A major outbreak of measles recently in Europe. What’s going on here? I know you’re doing some research on a forthcoming book, but what’s the process here and what’s happening?

Hotez: So thank you for the questions. So you’re absolutely right. You know, we’ve made… in the last 20 years we’ve made enormous progress partly through the creation of this amazing organization called GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization. And GAVI was started with 750 million dollars of Gates Foundation funding, and now they get support from a number of countries. And they’ve made great strides in vaccinating the world’s children, so that for instance, measles, which in the 1980s was the single leading killer of children in the world…Two million children died every year from measles. Now that’s down to 68,000 children dying every year. So an extraordinary decline, more than 90 percent decline through through the activities of GAVI… And also introducing some new vaccines.

That’s the good news part of the story. The bad news part of the story is around the time the GAVI was launched, 1998, is the start of this modern day anti-vaccine movement that makes the phony allegation that vaccines cause autism, even though there’s no link between vaccines and autism. And this spread across Europe, and now it’s into the United States. So in Europe last year there were 21,000 measles cases and 35 deaths. And, as you point out, last year we had a terrible measles outbreak in Minnesota. We have one ongoing right now in Kansas. And we have now 18 states in the U.S. that allow so-called non-medical exemptions for personal belief or philosophical belief reasons. I believe Oklahoma may be one of them certainly Texas.

So we’ve got now pockets where we’ve got schools were 20, 30, 40 percent of kids are not being vaccinated, and we know that the vaccine coverage rates goes down the first thing we see breakthrough is measles because it’s one of the most highly contagious diseases known. So I’ve been going around the country and internationally saying that we’re going to reverse global gains because of this anti-vaccine movement making phony assertions about vaccines.

Cruise: So, just to clarify that, the scientific evidence completely supports the safety of vaccines. There is no link between vaccinations and autism or other, other concerns.

Hotez: There’s not only no link between vaccines and autism, there’s no plausibility. And so I get involved in this because I’m not only a vaccine scientist I’m also an autism dad. So my… I have four kids and they’re all adults now, and my youngest daughter, Rachel, has severe autism and other mental disabilities, and I have a new book coming out at the end of the summer called “Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism,” and it explains not only the massive evidence showing there is no link between vaccines and autism but also the fact that we will, we’ve learned so much about the neurobiology of autism in the last few years. It can show that the changes in the brains of kids on the autism spectrum are beginning prenatally in the prefrontal cortex and temporal lobe, before the baby’s born, well before they ever see vaccine.

So this is a genetic and epigenetic condition. In fact we’ve recently done genetic testing on Rachel, and we found a new a new gene that’s been, been linked to autism. So this is where we have to focus the emphasis on doing things like whole genome sequencing on kids on the autism spectrum to fully understand the extent. And, unfortunately, this is being fueled by social media. It’s being fueled by a few aggressively anti-vaccine websites that make a lot of phony assertions. But it’s very real, and parents… you know the the the Google vaccines and they see these anti these anti-vaccine Websites spewing out misinformation. And so we’re making began the arduous task of trying to counteract the phony information by writing this book.

Cruise: Well what is very real is that the rising increase, as you mentioned, of measles and other diseases that have come about because of a lack of vaccination. So definitely something to, to consider. Well there are so many things that we could go over today and unfortunately, we are at an end of time. But thank you so much for the important work that you’re doing for your vaccine diplomacy and for all the other things that you do and for spending some time with us today.

Hotez: Well thank you again for having me.

At least 99 pesticides should have been banned in India: Supreme Court

Pesticides

 Pesticides – Representational Image

Updated: Apr 19, 2018, 05:37 PM

In an ongoing PIL that seeks Supreme Court’s directions for concrete action on harmful pesticides and their phasing out in India, in its last hearing a month ago, the Court directed the petitioners to make a representation to the “J S Sandhu Committee” within 15 days. The Court further ordered that ‘since the matter is of urgent nature, let the recommendations be finalised by the Committee expeditiously, preferably within 3 months, and if decision is taken to ban a particular pesticide, let it be implemented fifteen days thereafter’.

The existence and functioning of such a Committee was highlighted by the Government of India counsel during the Hearing on 19th March 2018, in Writ Petition (c) 1079 of 2017. However, to the petitioners’ surprise, when they sent their submission to ICAR on 27th March 2018, they found that no such J S Sandhu Committee was functioning in the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare. Dr J S Sandhu, who was the ICAR Deputy Director General (Crop Science) and Chair of the Registration Committee of CIBRC (the apex regulatory body for pesticides in India) had retired in July 2017, it was found, even though the government counsel referred to the ‘Committee headed by Dr J S Sandhu’ in a March 2018 hearing! After inquiries and communication initiated with CIBRC, the petitioners were informed on 16th April 2018, that in October 2017, the Committee was reconstituted with Dr S K Malhotra, Agriculture Commissioner, DA&FW as the Chairperson.

“It is indeed a very sad state of regulatory affairs in the country when it comes to pesticides. This petition was filed soon after the acute pesticide poisoning incidents that emerged in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, in November 2017. The petition contended that even the Anupam Verma Committee’s mandate was narrowed by the Government to 66 pesticides (“bannable” pesticides, as Parliament replies refer to these), when there are at least 99 pesticides being used in India, which have been banned or restricted elsewhere in the world. Our petition prayed for all these pesticides to be banned in India too, after citing numerous studies on the health impacts of these pesticides mainly on farmers and agricultural workers. This is the violation of the Right To Life of these citizens, we explained. Meanwhile, we find that the Anupam Verma Committee constituted in 2013, which gave its report in 2015, had inter alia recommended that 13 pesticides be completely banned and 6 pesticides to be phased out by 2020 (incidentally, pesticides like Monocrotophos banned in numerous other countries and implicated in many acute pesticide poisoning cases in the recent past, have been put into a list that was recommended for further review in 2018 by the Anupam Verma Committee!). Based on this, the Government of India put out a draft ban notification, dated 15th December 2016. However, after receiving 108 comments on this draft notification, the MoAFW, on 30th March 2017, set up a Committee headed by Dr J S Sandhu, for evaluation of the objections and suggestions received in response to the Gazette Notification. While this Committee was given one month’s time in which to submit its report, it is seen that no report is presented by the time Dr J S Sandhu retired by July 2017! After a gap of another 2 months, the MoAFW reconstituted the Committee with Dr S K Malhotra as the Chair, but with a time period of 2 months given. Instead of this report being submitted by December 2017, it is seen that even in the month of April 2018, no report has been submitted”, said Kavitha Kuruganti, Co-Convenor of ASHA (Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture) and the lead petitioner of the PIL. Co-petitioners include Ananthasayanan, a safe food activist and Dr Amarsingh Azad, a public health & child health expert. The case is being argued by Senior Counsel Prashant Bhushan on behalf of the petitioners.

Meanwhile, as per the Supreme Court’s directions to the petitioners, a representation was submitted in Krishi Bhawan on the 18th of April 2018. In their representation, petitioners submitted that no concrete action has been seen for nearly 5 years now, even as the negative impacts of pesticides were being borne by farmers and farm workers. They also objected to the constitution of the Committee, pointing out that no health experts have been included, and that the members are drawn mostly from the Registration Committee which had already reviewed the Anupam Verma Committee report in December 2015. The petitioners highlighted the serious limitations of the Anupam Verma Committee, its mandate and functioning, and reiterated the regulators’ failure to regulate and restrict use of pesticides. In their representation to the Committee, the petitioners repeated their broad prayers to the Supreme Court, which are the following:

1.       Ban as a first step all the 99 pesticides that have been banned or restricted in one or other countries elsewhere in the world;

2.       Ban the advertising and unacceptable practices of marketing and promoting of pesticides, which are after all poisons;

3.       Put into place a system by which the precautionary principle is to be followed before registering any pesticide for use or manufacture;

4.       Make it mandatory to perform a Needs and Alternatives Assessment before registering any pesticide;

5.       Appoint an Expert Committee comprising individuals of unimpeachable integrity mainly from the field of Organic Agriculture / Agro-Ecology to examine the issue of making a road map for phasing out all chemical pesticides in a time bound manner, preferably within 5 years, and for making recommendations on the assistance to be given by the Central and State Governments to farmers for the period of time it will take for their farms to convert to chemical pesticide free organic farms, as well as for providing the requisite impetus to organic farming in the country. Thereafter, Central and State Governments should implement the recommendations of the said expert committee in a time-bound manner. Such an Expert Committee should comprehensively and thoroughly examine and recommend the structural, institutional, legal and programmatic reforms that are needed to convert to organic farming in the country.

The Committee’s recommendations are now awaited, within three months, as per the SC’s 19/3/2018 Orders.

Bedbugs repeatedly found at STEMCivics charter school in Ewing

By David Foster, The Trentonian
STEMCivics Charter SchoolSTEMCivics Charter School founder Dr. Leigh Byron

STEMCivics Charter School GOOGLE MAPS IMAGE

EWING >> Pupils are not the only living things attending class at STEMCivics charter school in Ewing.

One parent is horrified that bedbugs have repeatedly crept their way into classrooms in recent years.

“The school should be shut down,” the parent said of the learning center located at the Incarnation — St. James campus in Ewing. “It’s a public health hazard.” The parent, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, shared five emails from STEMCivics Charter School founder Dr. Leigh Byron informing parents of bedbugs being found in classrooms dating back to Nov. 18, 2016. The most recent two sightings occurred on April 10 and March 28.

“The bedbugs come in from the outside and they come in with students,” Byron said Wednesday in a phone interview. “The students go to the nurse. The students are checked out. We help the parents privately and we go forward. It’s not a building facility issue.”

STEMCivics moved to Incarnation’s campus at 1555 Pennington Rd. in July 2015.

Once a bedbug is reported, the school activates a pest control plan, Byron said.

“We have an exterminator who comes to the school within hours and inspects the schools,” Byron said. “The room is quarantined for the day.”

Byron said the school will help parents with infestations at home by providing advice and information, and connecting them with organization and agencies that can help.

The school leader said he has heard concerns from staff, parents and students about the bedbugs problem.

“We are concerned about everybody’s well-being and we take every step to help the families whose children have brought them into school rid their homes of the bedbugs,” Byron said. “People are concerned when they hear (of a bedbug being found) but we give them the information, we help them and we are proactive.”

If bedbugs are brought back from the school to a home, it could be a costly problem.

It can cost thousands of dollars to remediate an infestation.

“Something needs to be done,” the parent said. “Once you bring home this, it’s a problem.”

Byron said the parent who is concerned has a “choice.”

“That parent who contacted you or any parent who contacted you and feels that we are not doing everything we can to ensure the safety of everybody does not have to be at our school,” the founder said. “We love our kids and we’d miss them but parents have the choice.”

Bedbugs have been a prominent problem in the Trenton region. Infestations have occurred at state office buildings and public agencies.

A Trentonian story in October 2016 about the Mercer County Board of Social Services using Bounce dryer sheets to combat the critters garnered national attention.

As for STEMCivics, the school will increase enrollment by 650 students between the next school year and 2023.

The charter school will open two middle schools in Trenton at 720 Bellevue Ave. and 301 N. Chancery Place next school year, with 225 students attending each middle school. STEMCivics was also authorized to increase its enrollment from 400 students to 600 students in the high school over a four-year period.

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