Most of us are familiar with the troubling headlines and images surrounding Zika virus. Zika is a disease transmitted from mosquitoes to humans through bite. It’s transition from virus in the insect to disease in humans is comparable to West Nile virus. Although it often manifests as a mild disease in most humans, like other viruses it effects babies and the elderly most severely. Zika is most disturbing for its effects on babies in the prenatal stages. Pregnant mother’s who are bitten by Zika-laden mosquitos can transmit the disease to their unborn babies, then causing a neurological disorder called microcephaly. This is defined as the abnormal smallness of the head, a congenital condition associated with incomplete brain development.
This disease is spreading rapidly through South America and into North America, at endemic rates in some locations. Interestingly I found some articles discussing the possibility of a different source of microcephaly. This disorder is defined as a head which measures at less than 12.5″ at birth, meaning a number of cases recorded as Zika are not actually that. Some of these babies are born smaller and will develop fully. Part of the issue with this is the lack of competent health care resources to provide reliable Zika testing for more impoverished and rural communities. The rest of these babies develop microcephaly from an entirely different source. One group of Argentinian researchers propose that this defect comes from a man made source. Hint: it’s in the water.
These researchers published an extensive site-based report on cases on microcephaly associated with Brazilian locations and their toxic drinking water. In 2014, a chemical company called Sugimoto (a subsidiary of Monsanto) injected Brazilian water supplies with a larvicide chemical to prevent mosquitos from breeding in local water sources. This chemical stops growth development of mosquito larvae. Since that has happened the areas nearest this chemical deposit have seen an abnormal increase of these infant cases. This pairs with a number of reports disproving the scale of Zika causing microcephaly cases, suggesting that their may be another (or several) prominent cause of the increase of microcephaly in South American infants.
The topics of Bruckner’s book last week seem relevant in this discussion…in Western media we fanaticize and obsess over the endemic wrath of nature…with its savage diseased bugs infecting the impoverished brown “others.” But the idea that this mass increase in severe neurological disorders that rob infants of the ability to live full, independent lives is caused by something man-made is a hard pill to swallow in the Western world. It is much easier to sensationalize epidemic than it is a mass poisoning.