Zika Virus: Get the Facts Right vs. Forget the Conspiracy Theories

Zika virus

Zika virus has been associated with the recent surge in microcephaly cases in Brazil. Several quarters around the world are also somewhat pointing fingers to the virus regarding the observed outbreak of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) in about 6 countries.

With all these suggested ties, there is no total proof but health authorities are almost convinced that Zika virus is actually behind the aforementioned cases. The deadly virus is transmitted by two mosquito species of the Aedes genus namely A. albopictus and A. aegypti. 

Other reports also say that the virus may be sexually transmitted. Infections as a result of this virus are asymptomatic. The virus infection might cause an illness known as Zika fever having symptoms such as a rash and fever. GBS and newborn microcephaly are also said to be part of Zika virus infections.

Zika Virus outbreak in 2015 has attracted numerous speculations and theories. Here are some created theories regarding the virus as well as related scientific responses.

Drinking water containing a larvicide could cause microcephaly

Scientists have rubbished off this rumor. Entomologists say that the larvicide pyriproxyfen is basically a mimic of an insect hormone that inhibits growth of larvae. Further, the larvicide does not attack the human nervous system and not dangerous to humans.

Zika virus

Infant brain damage cases have been reported in Polynesia and Brazil in several communities where pyriproxyfen is not being used. The 2001-approved larvicide in the U.S. is used as a flea treatment in cats and dogs.

Other vaccines have contributed to the outbreak

This cannot be the case whatsoever. Rumors have been doing rounds that Brazil’s introduction of new pertussis vaccine and “bad consignment of rubella vaccine” have led to the Zika virus outbreak. Stats indicate that no “bad vaccine” and rubella outbreak in expectant women that were reported. The said new pertussis vaccine has been in practice in many nations including the U.S. since 1990’s.

GM mosquitoes might be behind increasing birth defects 

This is absolutely wrong. Oxitec’s (British firm) release of genetically modified mosquitoes in Brazil was an attempt to counter dengue fever. The distance between places where the mosquitoes were released and the areas where later microcephaly outbreaks have occurred is very large. The released GM mosquitoes cannot be a cause.

Could there be another disease causing GBS and microcephaly?  

Various scientific findings have noted Zika virus to be behind microcephaly and GBS. In a number of reported GBS cases, Zika virus was found in the urine or blood samples of patients.

For microcephaly, Brazil, Europe and United States’ pathologists have discovered the Zika virus in brain tissue of both microcephalic aborted fetuses and still born as well the surrounding amniotic fluid.

Forget the conspiracy theories and get the scientific Zika virus facts right.

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