The onslaught of Zika stories in the media continues while the science lags. Searching “Zika” on Google News produces 86,500,000 results. Despite the coverage, there are still no firm estimates of the number of Zika viral illnesses as well as other key indices. Brazil continues to report an outbreak of microcephaly but the normal incidence of that birth defect has not yet been established.
The conservative media have been full of similar statements for several years. Stories have quoted anonymous sources and rumors. The spokesmen for the union of Border Patrol officers have been especially good about hurling accusations of disease at the illegal immigrants surging across our border.
Those individuals may cause a great many problems in the United States but the data does not suggest that they are bringing diseases to our shores in abnormal numbers. Disease comes to the United States by airplane these days.
Brazil is coping with a large number of conditions and diseases that may result in microcephaly in newborns. The public health authorities in that nation clearly do not have a handle on what the “normal” number of cases ought to be. It continues to appear that the “outbreak” of microcephaly is nothing of the sort but is the recognition of something that had been there all along.
It isn’t the largest mosquito, but today it caused the World Health Organization to declare an international public health emergency. Aedes aegypti, the Yellow Fever mosquito, carries and transmits the Zika virus and Zika viral illnesses are being blamed for large numbers of microcephaly cases in Brazil. The illness is also being blamed for increased numbers of cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome in countries such as Columbia and El Salvador.
As mosquitoes continue to spread Zika viral illnesses across Central and South America, Brazil and a number of other countries are noting a perceived surge in the number of instances of Guillain-Barré syndrome. While the data is slim regarding the confirmed number of cases, it may be useful to look at what the “normal” number ought to be. Brazil, Columbia, El Salvador and the United States are included in this analysis.