by using a variety of methods of vector control. These methods include the spraying of chemical pesticides, application of biological control agents, destruction or treatment of larval development sites, and personal protection measures, such as applying repellents or sleeping under bednets.
For a disease agent that is known or suspected to be transmitted by an arthropod vector, efforts to control the vector can be vital for containing or halting an outbreak. This is true even for those vector-borne diseases, such as yellow fever or malaria, for which there is or may eventually be an effective vaccine. For most vector-borne infectious diseases, the onset of winter dampens transmission; it can even, in some cases, eliminate the vector or infectious agent. The exceptions are pathogens that can survive in humans for long periods and produce chronic infection (e.g., malaria and typhus). A sudden drop in cases of an unidentified disease at the start of winter may be the first epidemiological evidence that the disease is vector borne.
Although many local and regional vector-control programs can effectively combat small and even medium-size outbreaks of vector-borne disease, they are not equipped to deal with outbreaks that are national in scope. For example, regional vector-control programs cannot declare a health emergency or bypass the many legal restrictions that now limit the use of certain pesticides that are potentially useful agents for control. That authority rests with health and environmental agencies at the state and federal levels. The lack of a sufficient stockpile of effective pesticides, which might be required in the event of a major epidemic, continues to be a serious problem.
The committee recommends that the Environmental Protection Agency develop and implement alternative, expedited procedures for the licensing of pesticides for use in vector-borne infectious disease emergencies. These procedures would include a means for stockpiling designated pesticides for such use.
A growing problem in vector control is the diminishing supply of effective pesticides. Federal and state regulations increasingly restrict the use and supply of such chemicals, largely as a result of concerns over human health or environmental safety. In addition, the 1972 Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA; Public Law No. 92-516) requires that all pesticides used in the United States be re-registered by 1997, a procedure that requires manufacturers to submit additional safety data. Some pesticide manufacturers have chosen not to re-register their products because of the expense of gathering necessary safety data. Partly as a result, many effective pesticides developed over the past 40 years are no longer available in the United States.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) further restricts the use of pesticides through the Endangered Species Protection Plan, which prohibits