Thursday, August 4, 2016

Microcephaly: Maybe it's not just Zika

has been some question in the medical literature if Zika is actually associated with a high percentage of microcephaly, or if maybe the misuse of pesticide in the water supply or some other toxin might have made the rate much higher in one poor area of Brazil then the rest of the world

The Zika discussion just got more data suggesting the rate is much lower in most areas than predicted.

the Globe and Mail (Via Drudge:_)

Because the virus produces no symptoms in up to 80 per cent of people who get it, and only mild symptoms in many others, few people confirm Zika infection with laboratory tests, and so statistics of Zika cases are always estimates. The virus currently infecting Brazilians is a new, Asian strain of Zika, which was identified more than 60 years ago but never associated with congenital problems, or known to be sexually transmissible, as this strain is.
 After Brazil, the next country that was expected to see the wave of congenital Zika was Colombia, which has the second-largest number of reported Zika cases. But of more than 12,000 pregnant Colombian women with Zika, only 21 have had fetuses or babies with the brain defects.

some of the discussion is stupid: The moms are poor and black. Well, duh. It's a well known fact that Brazil is racist, and the poor are mainly black.

and why not the rich? Well, I was just listening to a radio podcast that suggested that clusters could occur since mosquitoes have a limited range, so one case could spread locally but could stop if they didn't have folks to bite. Also the rich now have screens and airconditioners (even the rural Philippines have them, duh).

the article then goes on to lament the "restrictive abortion laws" and they suggest that maybe the moms are aborting their kids making the rate lower in some areas.

Yup.. A lot of the hysteria is being stoked to promote abortion, in the same way the Rubella and thalidamide disasters of the 1960's were used to promote "legal" abortion in the USA.

and then there is the data problem:

Beneath all of these theories lies a fundamental problem with data. Until this crisis, Brazil had very weak reporting of microcephaly, with rates in some areas reported as 1,000 times lower than in Europe even though researchers have every reason to believe that it occurred at roughly the same rates. With the emergency declared, health workers suddenly erred in the wrong direction, overreporting microcephaly. Almost none of the women with affected babies had a serologically confirmed Zika diagnosis.

It goes into a lot of details about possible "co infections" but doesn't mention the contamination of the water supply in the slum that many feel might be contributing to the microcephaly...

here in Asia, there is a lot of worrying since we have had a Dengue epidemic for years and it is the same mosquito that spread Zika.

The philippines plans to test all athlete coming home from the Olympics, but no reports of local cases...yet.

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