It’s the middle of summer now and prime time for backyard BBQ’s and pool parties. But be aware with the rain and heat comes ripe conditions for mosquito breeding. Fears of a Zika virus outbreak of epidemic proportions are being barraged upon us from the daily headlines. Are such fears really necessary here in the United States?
The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would provide $622 million to fight Zika virus. Yet even by White House estimates, they claim this sum will fall well short of the necessary amount. Public health agencies and government experts have recommended $1.9 billion to fight this most recent public health emergency.
According to Chris Barker, Ph.D., a mosquito-borne virus expert from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine: “I think the risk for Zika actually setting up transmission cycles that become established in the continental U.S. is near zero,” he recently told WebMD.1
Even in specific U.S. regions that are hot spots for mosquito populations like the Florida Keys, there has never been a report of a locally acquired case of Zika anywhere in the area of the Keys, according to officials at the Florida Department of Health in Monroe County.4
Historical Perspective and Background
The Zika virus was first identified in 1947 in Uganda, where it was originally limited to rhesus monkeys. It is an arbovirus, meaning the disease is transmitted via insect vectors like the mosquito, flea or tick.
In the human population, Zika infection typically causes only mild flu-like symptoms, if any at all. There does not appear to be any previous evidence to suggest that the Zika virus can cause birth defects like microcephaly.
In the U.S. there are roughly 25,000 infants born annually with microcephaly, or smaller than normal skull size.7 The U.S. is not considered to be a region where Zika virus is endemic (regularly found among people in the area). Brazil, on the other hand has about 70% of the population the United States has, and now reports just over 400 cases, 17 of which tested positive for the Zika virus. So the question is: Is this REALLY the GLOBAL emergency that we must fear?
In the country of Colombia there are 3,177 pregnant women who have tested positive for Zika virus, yet no cases of microcephaly have occurred.8
According to the Journal Neurology: “Microcephaly may result from any insult that disturbs early brain growth and can be seen in association with hundreds of genetic syndromes.”2
A Question of Credibility?
The Vaccine Reaction reported: “Practically everyone in the world knows about Zika and believes that the primary cause of babies being born with shrunken heads (microcephaly) and the concomitant brain damage in Brazil is that their mothers were bitten by the Zika-carrying mosquito while they were pregnant.” The same publication then posed a question that they were ready to answer, “Why does every one believe that?”
Their answer was: “Because public health officials at the U.S. (CDC) or Center for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the (NIH) National Institutes of Health say so. Forget that these federal health agencies have provided no solid scientific evidence of a causal relationship. That’s beside the point. It’s the CDC and NIH.”3
Do Other Explanations Exist for Microcephaly Incidence Increase?
One should consider that since the initial outbreak occurred in a largely poverty filled agricultural area of Brazil, that uses large amounts of banned pesticides, including DDT and others that this toxic burden may share in some of the blame. Between the above-mentioned factors, lack of sanitation in the region and widespread vitamin/mineral deficiencies the fundamental groundwork has been laid for an increase in poor health outcomes among newborn infants in this area of Brazil. Pollution in the environment as well as frequent, heavy pesticide exposures have shown a positive link with a vast myriad of adverse health problems, including birth defects.
Birth defect links in the literature include:
- Vitamin A deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of microcephaly5
- The CDC lists malnutrition and exposure to toxic chemicals as known risk factors6
- The CDC also notes certain infections during pregnancy including cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis, rubella and others are also risk factors.
In October 2014, the government of Brazil mandated that all pregnant women must receive the pertussis-containing Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccine effective as of 2015.9
The fact that birth defects began to rise toward the end of 2015 (in Brazil) seems even more suspect in light of the timing of the vaccine mandate. It is well known amongst researchers that the pertussis vaccine has previously been linked to brain inflammation and brain damage in infants and the safety of administering Tdap to pregnant women has never been proven.10
What Can We Do?
The first step in protecting ourselves and our loved ones is to take personal responsibility to keep our bodies as healthy as possible. Getting adequate rest, choosing nutritionally sound dietary options and limiting our exposures to toxic environmental chemicals will all be beneficial. Seeking help from a qualified nutritional health care provider would be another prudent option as you continue to pursue optimal health in spite of worldwide viral outbreaks.
Prevention of illness and optimizing health is key. Comprehensive testing through Take 2 Healthcare will find weaknesses, deficiencies and even diseases long before you have symptoms. Contact us today to get tested, before it’s too late.
1.WebMD May 26, 2016
2, 7. Neurology. 2009 Sep 15; 73(11): 887–897
3.The Vaccine Reaction May 16, 2016
4.U.S. CDC May 25, 2016
5.Obstetrics and Gynecology 1959 Mar;13(3):299-301
6. CDC, Facts About Microcephaly
8.Washington Post February 6, 2016
9.The Vaccine Reaction February 1, 2016
10. Fisher BL. Vaccination During Pregnancy: Is It Safe?