Scare-Mongering Or Health Threat: Health Authorities Seem Eager To Jump On The Zika Bandwagon In Florida With Little Room For Questions
By now we are all familiar with the stories being spread around about the Zika virus: pregnant women especially are being told to take precautions and avoid traveling to areas where it has been found, due to the reported link between Zika and microcephaly, the horrific condition in which infants are born with underdeveloped skulls and brains.
And the photos are truly devastating; its hard to imagine a woman who has carried a baby to term being presented with a baby who looks like is has had its brain scooped out and the skin stretched back over the opening, sealing it off.
The story appeals to one of the greatest human fears: that we might be helpless to care for our young properly, or that by our actions we might damage or fail to provide them with every possible chance in life.
But now with the news emerging that mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus have been found in Florida–recent news reports said that four people in an area just north of downtown Miami had caught Zika locally, likely from mosquito bites but possibly from sexual or blood transmission–some people are crying foul over the media and government’s breathless assumptions and unsubstantiated claims being propagated as fact.
For starters, and this is the big one, telling women that Zika is the cause of the microcephaly cases that were found last year in Brazil. The evidence of this is sketchy at best for several reasons.
First, the Zika virus has been around for a long time. First identified in the early 1950s, it is a rather benign pathogen that often causes people who are infected zero symptoms whatsoever. In Africa, the virus has been known to us since those early tests in the 1950s.
Yet in all that time, not one case of microcephaly associated with a pregnant woman infected with Zika has come out, or even been hypothesized. Not one.
However, in 2015, suddenly Brazilian authorities reported thousands of cases of babies born with microcephaly which was immediately attributed to Zika. This, despite the fact that all the cases came from one region where dangerous chemical pesticides are heavily sprayed.
Even World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan has stated: “Although a causal link between Zika infection in pregnancy and microcephaly has not, and I must emphasize, has not been established, the circumstantial evidence is suggestive and extremely worrisome.”
Ask any judge what you do with circumstantial evidence. You throw it out until you have something more solid to hang your hat on.
In other words, take all the latest round of Zika virus scare-mongering with a grain of salt. Or two.