Opinion by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Curmudgeon has wasted far too much time reading contradictory pieces about the Zika virus and its alleged connection to a serious brain defect called microcephaly. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued an advisory on January 6th saying there was no reason for pregnant women not to travel to places with Zika, but on January 16th, it said “don’t go!”
The World Health Organization (WHO) said that Zika virus is a “pandemic” about to hit four million people, but two days later it admitted that there was no proof that Zika had caused microcephaly.
Brazil’s Minister of Health said the country was being trounced in the battle against Zika, but Brazil’s President said he was wrong, and that no measly little virus could stand up to a great battling country.
The Brazilian government announced it was putting 200,000 military personnel out in the streets, armed with … pamphlets! But no one knows when this will happen, nor what the pamphlets will say, nor where the military will go.
The one (and only) thing everybody truly knows about Zika is that it is transmitted by Aedes Aegypti, a mosquito that loves human company. So, proposals abound to send Aedes to Hades, using (a) fumigation (with DDT); (b) asphyxiation (covering standing water); (c) genetic modification (they can’t breed); (d) vaccination (10 years down the road) and (e) the elimination of urban poverty (no comment).
The true problem, of course, is not Zika — it’s microcephaly. There has been an outbreak of microcephaly in Brazil’s Northeast, and what’s frightening is that no one knows what has caused it. Only a very few of these cases have been linked to Zika.
Unlike dengue and yellow fever, Zika has never killed anyone, nor even caused severe distress. Microcephaly, on the other hand, destroys lives. In the Curmudgeon’s opinion, the focus of Brazilian research should be microcephaly, not Zika.
The Curmudgeon will be traveling in Zika-free zones for the first fortnight of February, but will return.