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The words ‘Zika virus outbreak’ are headlining across every newspaper in just about every country.  WHO and the CDC are recommending pregnant women cancel any trips to countries with outbreaks and certain health officials are even suggesting women abstain from getting pregnant until at least 2018.  Jarring videos of microcephalic infants and their bleary-eyed parents are circling through social media feeds and email chains, promoting the notion that Zika virus is going to disable the next generation in utero and that we need to develop a wide spectrum vaccine as quickly as possible to save us from this scourge of disease.

Take a Deep Breath

Fear is a very powerful force.  It can move entire nations to do incredible things or incredibly stupid things.  Since December, the CDC, WHO, and governments of affected countries have been saying that Zika is correlated with the incidents of microcephaly.  As of yet, there is no imperial evidence that the Zika virus causes microcephaly and other birth defects.

In fact, evidence would suggest otherwise.  For example, over three thousand pregnant women in Colombia tested positive for Zika virus but there was not a single case of microcephaly amongst their children.  Furthermore, in rural Brazil, where 80% the cases of microcephaly originate, out of 404 microcephalic infants that were tested for Zika, only 17 actually had contracted the Zika virus.

If Not Zika, What Caused the Microcephaly in the remaining 387?

Remember that microcephaly is not a disease, but a symptom.  There are many things that can cross the placental barrier and potentially cause microcephaly such as drug and alcohol use, malnutrition or vitamin deficiency, toxic exposure in the environment, and yes, certain viruses such as toxoplasmosis.  However, Zika has been observed since 1947 and has never before been linked with microcephaly and other birth defects.

The regions most heavily affected in Brazil are rural regions where the government would argue mosquito control is lacking.  However, these are also areas that are known for rampant use of pesticides, some of which are illegal.  There are countless studies that document the long list of the debilitating side effects of pesticide exposure, including microcephaly and other birth defects.  Women in these rural regions are known to wash farm equipment after pesticides have been  administered and do not follow common safety practices such as wearing protective clothing or performing multiple washes of the equipment, fully exposing their skin to damaging pesticides such as atrazine and neonicotinoids.

Brazil is also country that has been chosen as the proving grounds for a new larvicide, Pyriproxyfen.  Manufacurted by a company subsidized by Monsanto, this larvicide was injected into the drinking water in many mosquito riddled regions 18 months ago, right around the time babies who now have microcephaly were conceived or in gestation.
 
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Pyriproxyfen works by disrupting endocrine activity in mosquito larva, thereby inhibiting proper hormone function and killing them.  However, studies have shown that this larvicide also disrupts endocrine and hormonal activity in humans as well and it can cross through the placenta, giving a hefty dose of pyriproxyfen to a delicate fetus.  

So Why Blame Zika?

If there is a disease to blame, pharmaceutical companies who have their fingers in the pot can wash their hands of responsibility.  Furthermore, if the masses are terrified of a crippling pandemic, they will be more than willing to pay a premium for a poorly developed vaccine that has not been properly tested for safety because “health officials” have been telling the public that this is the one and only way to protect yourself and those you love.

Having survived West Nile Virus, Bird Flu, Swine Flu, the Ebola outbreak and more without a single pharmaceutical medication or vaccination, we encourage you to think critically about Zika and seek information beyond what your local news anchor presents.  After all, they are only reading what’s on the proctor.