Monday, June 27, 2016


During the past year there have been numerous news  reports about the spread of the Zika virus through South America, Central America, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico  . This disease is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito  Over the last year scientists have observed a strong correlation between this disease and a spike in children born with a birth defect called microcephaly.  Brazil has been particularly hard hit, but the disease is spreading fast and has reached much of the warmer parts of the Americas.  These mosquitos can breed in a tiny amount of standing water and the slums of Brazil and other countries are the perfect locations for this epidemic.  Many of these "shanty towns " do not have sewer systems or  good sources of clean drinking water.  Rain that falls, collects in  puddles and abandoned trash like plastic cups.  The mosquitos have a perfect habitat for their life-cycle that only takes a few days. In the United States cases of Zika have been reported in many areas of the country,  so far all have resulted from  travel to Brazil or other areas where the disease is prevalent.

Why should we care?  Recent evidence suggests that the babies carried by pregnant women  are at extreme risk of acquiring the virus.  This pathogen apparently has the effect of creating the retardation/birth defect we call Microcephaly where the head and the brain are much smaller than normal.  Many babies have been born in Brazil and other parts of the Americas with this condition.

There is NO quick fix.  No cure or treatment. No vaccine. There is not even a reliable test for this disease. It may take years to bring this pathogen under control. At this point experts indicate that controlling the mosquito is the best way forward.  However, recent information indicates that the virus can not only pass from mother to child but also between sexual partners as well which is a first for a mosquito borne disease.  Adult who become infected with Zeka can come down with the neurological condition called Guillain-Barre syndrome This means this disease can spread without mosquitos, which makes it a threat to the human population world wide.

The  prospect of millions of babies being born with microcephaly or other birth defects as a result of a Zika infection, has sent shock waves throughout the medical community.,  Our government has requested 1.9 Billion dollars to deal with  this disease and women who are pregnant are being cautioned not to visit areas in the "Zika Zone".

It is still too early to predict what will happen, but the potential economic ramifications  of this disease could be devastating.  Any person going to see the Olympics in Brazil  in the Summer of 2016, will have to factor into their thinking  that there is a real possibility of contracting Zika.  Are people willing to take the risk of getting sick and potentially destroying an unborn child? Already the Brazilian government has panicked and is using its military to spray insecticides and do other things to try to get rid of the mosquitos---these efforts may ultimately  do more harm than good.  The economy of Brazil is already in trouble  and this epidemic is not going to help.

On a human level this is a tragedy   A Time magazine photo of a young Brazilian couple with their microcephaly child, was  heart wrenching.  As this disease continues to spread, millions of couples across the planet will make the difficult choice of postponing  having a child or accept the risk of  bringing a child into this world who faces an early death or at best a life full of problems.

The recent Zeka funding bill passed by the House of Representatives is a disgrace.  It is wholly inadequate in the face of this terrible threat.  The radicals who run the House are going to live to regret their stupid behavior.  Many of these members of Congress represent areas in the south where the disease will hit first because they have the most mosquitos and  it has the potential to do the most damage. When young mothers begin having retarded children because of their incompetence their lack of foresight will come back to haunt them.

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