Obama's Cuts in Science, Public Health and Veterinary Capacity Aid Resurgent Diseases: West Nile, Anthrax, Pertussis
August 21, 2012 • 10:19AM

There are currently several resurgent diseases in the United States, which are, in some cases, abetted by the weather extremes, and in all cases are augmented by the Obama subversion of capabilities in science, public health and veterinary services. The diseases include West Nile fever, anthrax, pertussis, botanical diseases including aflatoxin, and others.

On March 15, this situation was forewarned of, in a press briefing by the National Oceanographic and Aeronautics Agency (NOAA), at the time it released its annual "Spring Forecast," foreseeing more weather extremes ahead. NOAA spokesmen announced a new Memo of Understanding with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to track consequences of weather extremes in terms of disease vectors. NOAA said that, in particular, they wanted to initiate a new collaboration with NASA on impacts of heat on health. However, resources continue to be cut, and reality appears in the form of disease, sickness and death.

West Nile virus has surged to the scale of causing 26 deaths so far this season, with 693 reported cases, and manifestation in 43 states. Of the reported cases, 59% have resulted in neurological diseases, such as meningitis or encephalitis. The spread is the largest since the virus was first identified in the U.S. in 1999. Most of the pattern of resurgence is associated with the mosquito vector, which transmits the virus from birds to humans, and over the mild Winter, favorable conditions were created for an early and dense mass of mosquitoes this year, especially where it was wet. Dallas County, Texas, has been declared a disaster area for West Nile.

Anthrax cases have shown up at locations in the western states, where, in the hot, dry conditions, grazing animals have picked it up from the soil, where the spores can remain for decades. In the past two weeks, more than 60 cows died on Colorado ranches (Logan County), and nearly 50 sheep, from a flock in Texas. Soil microbiologists, pointing out that anthrax bacteria react to drought and harsh conditions by producing more spores, warn of more danger ahead. Colorado's outbreak was the first in 31 years.

Vaccines exist for both humans and animals. Humans can acquire anthrax, through direct contact with infection from animals. Prompt treatment with antibiotics can cure the illness, but without that, it can be fatal.

The other headline disease right now is pertussis, also known as whooping cough, which is controllable through vaccination practices, but epidemiologists are concerned that insufficient protocols are in effect. This month, the first death this year was reported, of an infant in North Carolina. Washington state has declared a pertussis epidemic. Wisconsin has the highest reported rate or pertussis, with an incidence this Summer, of 50.7 per 100,000, with is nearly 10 times the national average.

The stance of the Obama Administration has been to, nevertheless, cut funding for fighting infectious disease, as well as needed capabilities for NOAA, NASA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and other agenices. The February Obama proposal for FY 2013 was to cut $57 million from the CDC budget line for "Immunization and Respiratory Diseases," down from $779 million in 2012, and even from $748 million in 2011. The cut for the CDC budget line for "Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases" (such as anthrax) was for a $2.5 million cut from $184.6 million in 2012, which itself was down from $186.2 million in 2011.

Other cuts: The National Weather Service is proposed to have a 6.2% budget cut for FY 2013, down to $872 million; NOAA is to have a 1.31% increase to $5.18 billion, but not enough to maintain weather satellite programs as required; and the Army Corps of Engineers (which works with the National Weather Service) is cut down to $4.73 billion for FY 2013, down from the paltry $5.002 billion in 2012.