Musings of the 2018 Program Chair

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Volume 1:1; September 28, 2017

Mosquitos & Undocumented Immigrants’ Rights

For those directly affected, natural catastrophes are difficult in the extreme to deal with.  The physical, psychological, sociological and environmental harm done by hurricanes, earthquakes, massive fires and more have us all asking “How do/can we respond?” 

Simultaneously, natural catastrophes have not-so-apparent effects that raise ethical and policy questions.  Take a look at this short conversation piece, so relevant to the 2018 MSS program theme “Sociology and the Public’s Health.”

For your focused consideration, consider this challenge from the piece:

The breeding ground for mosquitoes is not actually the large, sometimes deep blanket of floodwaters, most of which recedes fairly quickly. Small bodies of left-behind water, such as that in a dog’s water bowl, become ideal breeding areas. Unless these breeding sites are emptied, there could be tens of thousands of new breeding grounds in the cities of Houston and Miami alone.

This presents a special kind of public health challenge in the wake of the storms. In some areas, people may not return to their homes for a long time. Government and response agencies must figure out a way to eliminate standing water in order to prevent mosquito breeding grounds.

However, almost all of the breeding grounds will be on private property, with no one present to either dump the waters or authorize the government to do so. Moreover, Houston is home to more than half a million undocumented immigrants, who may not be likely to cooperate with authorities, even if they are in their homes, for fear of prosecution or deportation. 

  • So what are public officials to do? 
  • Where’s the boundary between individuals’ rights to privacy and the greater good of the public’s protection against disease epidemics? 
  • What’s your take on issues surrounding surveillance and the public’s health?

Let me hear from you!  I’m starting this idea exchange - via the MSS website and Facebook - on topics presented in these Musings related to the MSS 2018 program theme – and more!!!

The MSS 2018 PROGRAM SUBMISSION PORTAL is open NOW, until October 31, 2017. Submit a paper/poster/roundtable!