Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dengue Fever in the US: Will OMB and CBO allow us to do anything about it?

Dengue Fever is a terrible mosquito-borne disease, endemic in 100 countries, afflicting millions worldwide.  And perhaps it's coming, in a big way to the US, as WESH-TV, of Orange County, Florida reports; 30 cases across the Sunshine State.

Dengue Fever is rarely fatal; WESH quotes Dr. Todd Husty as saying of the symptoms: “You get a real great fever, a horrible fever; it's called ‘break bone fever.’ You feel like your bones are breaking, but it's really joint pain.”  If you want to see some of its effects, click here.

Which is to say, fatal or not, Dengue Fever is a serious public health issue.   In the last century, America has made enormous gains in public health, relative to mosquito-borne diseases, including Dengue Fever, but also Malaria and Yellow Fever.   Mostly, we drained away the mosquito habitats.   But whatever the technique, government officials of yesteryear thought it was worth it to eliminate such diseases--the American people, and their health, were worth investing in.  

But then we grew complacent.  Which is why, to cite another example, tuberculosis has made a comeback in the US.  That's expensive, among other concerns.

Now the question: Will the Office of Management and Budget, alongside the Congressional Budget Office and other citadels of bean-counting, say that we can afford to worry about Dengue Fever, or not?   Or will the goal of deficit-reduction take precedence?

Here's a news flash for "deficit hawks": If Americans get sick from Dengue Fever--and the Dengue virus could always mutate, perhaps for the worse--that will cost us more than we save by looking the other way as the disease spreads.

No comments:

Post a Comment