Does The Zika Virus Cause Birth Defects?

ZikaBirthDefects2

A woman in Brazil holds her daughter, who was born with microcephaly. An increase in the disease — a form of brain damage — has been blamed on the Zika virus. New York Times

Zika Hysteria Is Way Ahead Of Research Into Virus, Says Expert, The Guardian, 17 February 2016

Leslie Lobel, “one of the world’s leading virologists:”

“It’s not clear that what’s going on in Brazil is linked to the Zika virus. There’s no definitive proof that Zika is causing microcephaly. I believe the hysteria is way ahead of the research or the facts about the pathology surrounding this virus.”

He emphasises it is more important first to understand whether the disease is really causing microcephaly, or whether other factors might be jointly or solely responsible.

What other factors? Possibly pesticides:

This week, the state government of Rio Grande do Sul in the south of Brazil banned the use of the larvicide pyriproxyfen after a report by the Argentinian group Physicians in Crop-Sprayed Towns suggested it might be causing the foetal brain deformities. Brazilian health authorities said there was no scientific basis for this claim. But Lobel said there was a strong possibility pesticides could be involved and this needed to be studied.

Here’s that report:

Argentine And Brazilian Doctors Suspect Mosquito Insecticide As Cause Of Microcephaly, Ecologist, 10 February 2016
Latin American Doctors Suggest Monsanto-Linked Larvicide Cause Of Microcephaly, Not Zika Virus, EcoWatch, 12 February 2016
Larvicide Manufactured By Sumitomo, Not Zika Virus, True Cause Of Brazil’s Microcephaly Outbreak: Doctors, Tech Times, 14 February 2016

There are 2 bits of data that seem to contradict a link between infection with zika virus and microcephaly:

  1. “Of the cases examined so far, 404 have been confirmed as having microcephaly. Only 17 of them tested positive for the Zika virus.”
  2. “And last weekend, the most powerful indicator yet that the microcephaly may have another cause altogether was announced by Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, as reported by the Washington Post. Colombian public health officials, stated Santos, have so far diagnosed 3,177 pregnant women with the Zika virus- but in no case had microcephaly been observed in the foetus.”

Of 3,177 infected women, not one case of microcephaly.

The Guardian article said, “Almost all the linked cases are found in the north-east region of Brazil.” And Argentine doctors said, “in the area where most sick people live, a chemical larvicide that produces malformations in mosquitoes was introduced into the drinking water supply in 2014.”

Why in the world wouldn’t you suspect a pesticide link? I think … No corporation or government body would allow that claim to stand because it would put the responsibility for thousands of infants born with serious birth defects upon them. It is much easier to blame public health tragedies on a virus that on a person.

It seems to me there should be less drastic ways to deal with mosquitoes other than dumping pesticide in the water supply. How would we feel drinking water that had been deliberately contaminated with pesticide?

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