Researchers discovered the Zika virus in the Zika forest of Uganda – in 1947. It is a virus not much different than the viruses causing dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, West Nile fever, and St. Luis encephalitis. The Zika virus eventually spread throughout most of the world. Mosquitoes carry and spread the Zika virus. But for decades the Zika disease afflicting humans was free of brain deform or the shrinking of the infant’s brain known as microcephaly (a Greek term meaning tiny brain-head).
The 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
I heard the name Zika for the first time in 2016 during the Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Reporting on the PBS Newshour offered warnings for those going to Brazil. Other large media went almost berserk. They were shouting that women near the Olympics site were giving birth to babies with tiny brains. They blamed Zika virus. They blamed the mosquitoes for the malformation of the brain of the babies. The Olympics should be delayed or moved to another country. Brazil was dangerous.
Imagine hundreds of athletes and hundreds of thousands of tourists returning to Europe and the United States with this dreadful Zika disease, especially pregnant women likely giving birth to deformed babies.
Astonishing as these unverified news stories were, government agencies rushed to give them credence. I heard representatives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention repeating the questionable newspaper and TV stories about the Zika virus. In addition, CDC keeps saying that fighting Zika virus-carrying mosquitoes in Brazil and Florida with a neurotoxin named “naled” is harmless. After all, farmers and mosquito controllers have been spraying naled for more than fifty years in the United States.
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