Brazilian Authorities: Microcephaly Likely Not Caused By Zika. U.S. Authorities: Zika Is Here, Everybody Panic
As the fear over the northward spread of the Zika virus blossoms into something like a full-blown panic, things are getting weirder and weirder in Florida.
Authorities are instituting programs of spraying dangerous chemicals like naled across entire neighborhoods Miami. They’re going door-to-door demanding residents give them urine samples. They’re suggesting travel restrictions or at least discouraging travel for women who are pregnant.
However, not all the facts are in just yet. But there has been an interesting new development: while all the attention was focused on the Olympics in Brazil, authorities there quietly made an announcement that the U.S. media has thus far chosen not to pick up on: they have finally admitted that Zika may not be responsible for the microcephaly cases after all.
While Zika has been spreading throughout Brazil, microcephaly has not. Indeed, the Zika virus has been around in both South America and Africa, identified since the 1950s, and microcephaly has never before been linked to the virus.
Finally, someone noticed this discrepancy.
“We suspect that something more than Zika virus is causing the high intensity and severity of cases,” said Dr. Fatima Marinho, of Brazil’s Ministry of Health.
Indeed, while Brazil has seen some 1,700 cases of microcephaly or other birth defects of the central nervous system, they aren’t evenly distributed. The cases mostly center in the northeast part of the country, where crops are heavily sprayed with dangerous pesticides.
There also seem to be socio-economic factors involved: most of the women who gave birth to babies with these defects were poor and lived in poverty-stricken areas where the pesticides are sprayed most heavily.
Another factor to consider is Columbia. The New England Complex Systems Institute performed a study in which they followed 12,000 pregnant Columbian women who were infected with Zika. They found exactly zero of the women gave birth to babies with microcephaly.
“This gives a consistent interpretation that there is no direct link between Zika and microcephaly except for random co-occurrence,” the study’s authors wrote.
So what in the world is going on with doctors, the CDC and news reporters breathlessly screaming about Zika as the cause of microcephaly when the truth is we know no such thing?
Already in the U.S. there is a rush to launch a new, undertested Zika vaccine. A trial involving 80 participants is underway–all to combat a disease that is so mild many people never even know they have it, and which has not been definitively linked to any severe health outcomes.
As one World Health Organization doctor, Florence Fouque said, the response has been “completely hysterical.”
Until cooler heads prevail, it would probably be wise to avoid health authorities collecting urine samples or offering experimental vaccine shots.