Thursday, February 04, 2016

Zika conspiracy theories (uh, Dengue is the real problem).

well, that didn't take long.

According to the latest Conspiracy theories, the Zika virus was caused by the GM mosquitos released in Brazil by the NWO and is a plan to depopulate the world. check out the comments: It's in the Bible! It's a plague on mankind killing their newborns!


Right. A mild virus that causes a small number of birth defects will depopulate the world.

Reality check: The GM mosquitoes were released in Brazil. Also in Malaysia and in the Cayman Islands.

Zika is endemic in Africa, and probably spread to Brazil with world cup tourism...the first cases started in Rio, and spread to the poor areas in Bahia: it did not start there.

The back story: so why were the mosquitoes released?

Because of Dengue fever, a much more serious disease that is an epidemic here in SE Asia, and in Latin America, including Brazil.

Theoretically, you can eliminate the disease by cleaning up places, wearing insect repellant, and using mosquito nets or screens, which is why it is not a big threat in much of the USA.

Mosquitos breed in any small puddle, and I suspect the slums in Brazil are like here: Lots of cans and plastic bags all over that allow small puddles of water from rain or dew for mosquitoes to breed in... not to mention open sewers/drainage ditches.

How fast do they breed? I have to change the water in my flower vases every day...

The 3000 cases of microcephaly are a tragedy, but are a tiny percentage of babies born in Brazil. What is more important: few actual deaths from the disease. Compare and contrast to deaths from six months of Brazil's 2015 Dengue epidemic:

from this article in HealthMap, from last May:

The Brazilian Ministry of Health has reported 746,000 registered cases of Dengue fever and 229 confirmed deaths since January 2015 [1,3]. This marks a 234% increase in Dengue cases and a 45% increase in Dengue deaths since the previous year [3]...

FYI: That is about the same number of deaths we had here last year.

the heatlhmap article continues:

The primary Dengue vector in South America is the Aedes aegypti mosquito [2,5]. The Aedes aegypti mosquito is also capable of transmitting Yellow Fever and Chikungunya [2]. These mosquitoes are daytime feeders that prefer urban habitats, bite multiple humans during each feeding period, and breed primarily in man-made containers such as water tanks, plastic bottles, discarded tires, and flower pots [1-2,5]. 

so the basic prevention is clean the place up. Use mosquito nets, screens, or better yet, sleep inside with the airconditioner on.

in contrast to the deaths from Dengue, deaths are rare from Zika fever:  Ironically, what will cause deaths is the panic.

Pregnant women will die from illegal abortions. (abortion activists will use the epidemic to legalize abortion in Brazil but the dirty little secret is that a lot of poor ladies will just do it themselves because of the cost).

Babies with microcephaly will die from neglect, or because of medical complications (e.g. seizures) that could be prevented in a richer country.

And, of course, people will die from misuse of insecticides.

I am always amazed that people see conspiracy theories against doctors trying to stop a disease. They ignore the "risk/benefit" ratio of vaccines or spraying. They stop DDT to save the bird and ignore the children dying of malaria when the mosquitos come back and bite them.

Like Luddites, they are in horror at GM sterilization of mosquitoes that might save human lives, and will use this outbreak to stop further research in this area.

For example:

GeneWatch, a British-based nongovernmental group, opposes the Brazil program, saying the unintended consequences could include the possibility that some next-generation mutants survive and that a temporary reduction in dengue fever could be counterproductive by lowering human immunity.
Reality check: This might be true for Zika virus, which confers immunity, but apparently these "experts" don't know that Dengue does NOT confer immunity on you: immunity is only for the subtype version of the virus you were infected with, but the bad news is:

Antibodies from previous dengue infection increase the ability of the new strain to infect cells increasing rates of viral replication which results in more severe clinical manifestations of dengue

and the LATimes article reminds these Luddites that they aren't the ones at risk for dying:

"Yes, there is a radical ecologist wing that thinks you shouldn't get involved with nature no matter what, and there are those of us who think fighting disease is worth it," says Danilo Carvalho, technical director of the Transgenic Aedes Project, the government-funded effort being carried out at Moscamed.
That argument holds sway with many in the poor neighborhoods of Juazeiro, where standing water allows mosquitoes to flourish in a hot, dry climate.

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