Already there are calls to speed the development of a vaccine (naturally) for Zika and for greater use of pesticides to control mosquitoes (more on that later).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us the Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. From the CDC, “The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.”
In other words, it’s not a serious disease. It’s been around since the 1940s.
The biggest scaremongering around Zika involves reports that it is responsible for an increase in microcephaly (shrunken head and impaired brains) cases in newborns in Brazil. Women in some Central American countries are even being encouraged by their governments to forgo pregnancy for at least two years because of the danger of giving birth to infants with microcephaly.
However, Brazil’s Health Ministry admits the Zika virus was found in only six of the 270 confirmed microcephaly cases reported since October. Both these numbers are significant in their own way.
First is the number of confirmed microcephaly cases. There were only about 150 cases of microcephaly reported in Brazil in 2014, out of about 3 million births, so 270 in three months would seem to be a significant increase. But Brazilian medical authorities had never asked doctors to report microcephaly cases to government before late in 2015. In other words, no one knows how many cases there have actually been in Brazil in any given year.
Yet we are expected to believe that there is a sudden uptick in microcephaly cases caused by a virus that’s been around for at least 75 years… based on six confirmed cases of Zika in 270 confirmed microcephaly afflicted babies.
In the U.S., microcephaly affects about
Again from the CDC:
The causes of microcephaly in most babies are unknown. Some babies have microcephaly because of changes in their genes. Other causes of microcephaly can include the following exposures during pregnancy:
- Certain infections, such asrubella, toxoplasmosis, or cytomegalovirus
- Severe malnutrition, meaning a lack of nutrients or not getting enough food
- Exposure to harmful substances, such as alcohol, certain drugs, or toxic chemicals
What we do know is Brazil is essentially ground zero for pesticide and herbicide use. A study conducted in France from 2002 to 2006 and published in PubMed “found The presence versus absence of quantifiable levels of atrazine or a specific atrazine metabolite was associated with fetal growth restriction… and small head circumference… Head circumference was inversely associated with the presence of quantifiable urinary metolachlor… Evidence of associations with adverse birth outcomes raises particular concerns for countries where atrazine is still in use.”
Both atrazine and metolachlor are widely used in Brazil.
There is also the introduction of genetically engineered mosquitoes. Who knows what toxins they are transmitting?
In 2014 the big scare was Ebola. The World Health Organization predicted an Ebola pandemic could affect 1.4 million people worldwide by 2015. It never happened, nor was it ever contracted outside several African countries – countries noted for malnutrition and little to no sanitation, the widespread use of pesticides and with ongoing wars involving chemical weapons.
Now WHO is predicting 3 million to 4 million cases of Zika in the Americas over the next year. But don’t worry; Freidan assures us the medical men are on it. After all, the CDC identifies, “on average, one new health threat each year,” Friedan writes.
So if Ebola didn’t get you, and Zika doesn’t get you, there will be something new or recycled next year. And doubtless a vaccine to follow.
And meantime, the call has gone out for more pesticides in Brazil to kill the responsible mosquitoes.
What could go wrong?