TOLEDO, Ohio - With summer in full-swing across America, one unwelcome pest is getting a PR boost from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Despite concerns with a variety of mosquito-borne illnesses and a correlated up tick in sales of mosquito killing devices, PETA is encouraging American's not only to refrain from killing the biting insects, but to allow them to feed unmolested.
"What in life cannot at times be irritating?" asked Ingrid Newkirk, the cofounder and president of PETA. "Does the fact that something bothers us give us the moral authority to commit murder? At PETA, we know that it does not and we are committed to extending our compassion for life to all its manifestations."
Christina Coyle, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and the author of a study recommending the people "flick" rather than "swat" mosquitoes expressed concern with PETA's position. "Not killing them mid-bite may make sense, as it prevents any portion of the mosquito from remaining in the skin and potentially becoming infected. But purposely allowing mosquitoes to bite and feed is a bad idea and terrible advice."
PETA cited Coyle's report when issuing their "Mercy for Mosquitoes" appeal. "When a group of enlighten doctors suggest mercy, all people of goodwill should heed their advice," continued Newkirk. When it was pointed out that the report does not recommend allowing the insects to feed uninterrupted Newkirk suggested that this was another example of media bias.
"Anti-mosquito sentiment runs high," said Newkirk. "This makes them a ‘safe' target for hostility. When will people understand that every living thing is here to serve a purpose and that for us to impose our sensibility denies this reality?"
With that, Newkirk thrust her bare arm into a mesh enclosure filled with mosquitoes PETA volunteers had captured across the country and seemed to revel in the many bites she was seen receiving.
"That might be a good PR stunt," said Dr. Julie Louise Gerberding, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "but Ms. Newkirk should consider that mosquitoes are a vector for a number of serious diseases including eastern equine encephalitis, West Nile virus and Rift Valley Fever. Anyone who holds their health dear should disregard PETA's crackpot message on mosquitoes."
Asked for a response, an aide to Ms. Newkirk said she was unavailable as she was now offering her face to "the mosquito king for him and his subjects to feed upon."