Zika...What's the truth?
Who hasn't heard this word in the news in the past 4 months?
But are we really getting the whole story? Is this a legitimate danger which should make us avoid the outdoors, stop traveling, and get mass vaccinations?
Or is it anything like swine flu, bird flu, or ebola?
If you're concerned about what you've been hearing through the media, do a little digging here (read his footnotes, too!), or read up in Dr. Moleski's latest article from the Tallahassee Reports:
Olympics, Pollution, and Zika Virus
As the Summer Olympics come to an end, we were all enlightened about the terrible pollution problem in Brazil. Topics like: human waste in lakes and rivers, green swimming pools, athletes told not to get their heads under water, water quality tests showing levels 1.5 million over levels considered safe in the US, and the US Olympic rowing team suiting up in anti-microbial outfits.
Could this polluted environment have any connection to the Zika virus “outbreak” there?
We've seen a string of these virus scares over the past six years, from the bird flu and swine flu to Ebola — all of which died down as suddenly as they emerged, without causing the predicted widespread catastrophic damage in the real world.
Zika virus is being blamed for increasing rates of microcephaly in Brazil, a condition in which babies are born with unusually small heads.
As reported by The New York Times, of the more than 4,780 reported cases, only 404 infants have been confirmed as having microcephaly, and only 17 tested positive for Zika virus. There's actually very little scientific evidence tying the Zika virus to this particular condition.
According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, far more likely culprits contributing to microcephaly increases in Brazil are lack of sanitation, widespread vitamin A and zinc deficiency, environmental pollution, and toxic pesticide exposure.
What is Zika anyway?
The Zika virus was initially identified in 1947 in Uganda. It's an arbovirus, meaning the disease is transmitted via mosquito, tick or flea.
In humans, Zika infection typically causes only mild flu-like symptoms, if any, and there does not appear to be any prior evidence suggesting it might cause birth defects.
Nutritional deficiencies in Brazil should be considered as a factor in microcephaly.
Vitamin A and zinc deficiency are considered endemic in Brazil, and both of these nutritional deficiencies are known to depress immune function.
More importantly, vitamin A deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of microcephaly specifically, and zinc is known to play an important role in the structure and function of the brain.
Even the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists malnutrition and exposure to toxic chemicals as two of the three known risk factors for microcephaly.
There are pollution considerations in this “outbreak”.
For starters, the "outbreak" occurred in a largely poverty-stricken agricultural area of Brazil that uses large amounts of banned pesticides.
A report by an Argentine physician's organization called "Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns" also challenges the theory that Zika virus is responsible for the microcephaly cases in Brazil. They note that for the past 18 months, a chemical larvicide that causes malformations in mosquitoes (pyroproxyfen) has been applied to the drinking water in the affected area of Brazil.
This chemical is a known endocrine disruptor and is teratogenic (meaning it causes birth defects). The organization also points out that Zika virus has never been associated with birth defects previously, even in areas where 75 percent of the population has been infected.
Dr. Mercola notes that a biotech company called Oxitec has created genetically modified mosquitoes to combat dengue fever and Zika - a project that some suspect may have somehow backfired, resulting in a Zika outbreak instead.
In July 2012, the company had set up a large-scale transgenic mosquito farm in Brazil. The genetically-engineered mosquitoes were released into the wild in Juazeiro, Brazil in the summer of 2015.
Was this wise? Helen Wallace, a British environmentalist with the organization GeneWatch, noted in 2012: "This mosquito is Dr. Frankenstein's monster, plain and simple. To open a box and let these man-made creatures fly free is a risk with dangers we haven't even begun to contemplate."
In the U.S., approximately 25,000 infants are diagnosed with microcephaly each year. Brazil has about 70 percent of the population the U.S. has, and now reports just over 400 cases, 17 of which tested positive for the Zika virus. So is this really the global emergency it's being made out to be?
And more importantly, is Zika virus really responsible for these birth defects? Colombia reports that 3,177 pregnant women have tested positive for Zika virus, yet no cases of microcephaly have occurred.
We cannot expect a healthy infant population when pregnant women are assaulted with malnutrition and toxins in their environment. Let’s ask the right questions about the artificial materials in our environment, and stop blaming Zika for our bigger problems.