Yellow Fever Again Threatens Americans, Once Terrorized Holly Springs

Graveyard In Holly Springs, Miss.
Graveyard In Holly Springs, Miss.
For the first time in almost 50 years mosquitoes carrying the Yellow Fever virus have been found in California.
I grew up in Holly Springs, so I am well aware of the dangers of Yellow Fever. Although the numbers vary depending on the source, in 1878 Holly Springs had a population of about 3,500. More than half fled the city in fear of the plague. Of those remaining, almost all contracted Yellow Fever. More than 300 died.Among the dead was the local newspaper editor, Col. Holland, who reported on the epidemic to the end. A priest and 13 nuns all contracted the disease while caring for the sick. The priest and six of the nuns died. Mississippi Secretary of State Kinloch Falconer, of Holly Springs, returned to his home town to assist and also contracted the disease and died.

Supposedly he had asked Gov. Stone to appoint a fellow townsman in the event of his death, and indeed the governor appointed Henry Myers of Holly Springs to fill the post made vacant by Falconer’s death.

Now that we have had our little history lesson, let’s talk about how to get rid of yellow fever. It’s as simple as three little letters: D-D-T. Forget all the horror stories of fragile condor eggs and such that you’ve heard from back in the days when farmers used massive amounts of the pesticide on their crops. Those stories may be true. But limited DDT use causes little harm and does a great deal of good. The pesticide works.

Used in small quantities indoors DDT works as a repellent. There is no need to even use enough to actually kill the mosquitoes. When discussing DDT we need to remember that it was credited with saving hundreds of millions of lives and eradicating malaria in much of the developed world.

By using economic pressure to force poor, mostly African countries, not to use the pesticide today our nation is allowing millions to die needlessly. In fact, many liberals traditionally hated DDT precisely because it did save lives.

Alexander King, founder of the Malthusian Club of Rome, wrote in a biographical essay in 1990: “My own doubts came when DDT was introduced. In Guyana, within two years, it had almost eliminated malaria. So my chief quarrel with DDT, in hindsight, is that it has greatly added to the population problem.”

Dr. Charles Wurster, one of the major opponents of DDT, is reported to have said, “People are the cause of all the problems. We have too many of them. We need to get rid of some of them, and this (referring to malaria deaths) is as good a way as any.”

The position of the Sierra Club was stated by its director, Michael McCloskey: the “Sierra Club wants a ban on pesticides, even in countries where DDT has kept malaria under control…[because by] using DDT, we reduce mortality rates in underdeveloped countries without the consideration of how to support the increase in populations.” In other words, these commentators hate DDT because it enables those pesky ol’ poor people to keep on living!

Roughly a million people die from malaria each year. Sometimes these deaths leave families destitute, resulting in further deaths. Most of these deaths could be prevented with the judicious use of DDT. Pol Pot killed around a million Cambodians directly and another million indirectly. Today countries, through their absolute ban on DDT use do exactly the same thing to malaria victims around the undeveloped world — each and every year!

We have a DDT ban we don’t need. We have the equivalent of a Pol Pot every year, which we certainly don’t need. All we need is reasonable, limited use of DDT to eradicate and repel mosquitoes.

Courtesy of Frank Hurdle. Hurdle is a graduate of Ole Miss and the Ole Miss Law School. He was the 1987-88 editor of The Daily Mississippian. Frank can be contacted at frankhurdle@hurdlelaw.com