One of the biggest unknowns about Zika viral illnesses is the number of patients who contract the disease but have a sub-clinical or asymptomatic illness. The incidence of asymptomatic Zika is critical to understanding how the illness is spread. Can an asymptomatic patient pass the virus to another person through sex? Can an asymptomatic patient infect a mosquito that bites him and infect the mosquito enough that the mosquito can transmit the virus to another human?
The headlines are shocking. The New York Times states “Zika Cases in Puerto Rico Are Skyrocketing.” Most other media outlets follow with similar ledes. Is it true? Or, is it just more lies, damn lies and statistics?
In a June 30 post, I discussed a study published in the Lancet, titled “Congenital Zika virus syndrome in Brazil: a case series of the first 1501 live births with complete investigation”. (1) I had raised a number of issues and I wrote the corresponding author for some clarification. I have received a response from Prof. Cesar G Victora.
The Lancet has just released online an important study about the occurrence of microcephaly in Brazil and its relationship to maternal Zika viral illnesses. “Congenital Zika virus syndrome in Brazil: a case series of the first 1501 live births with complete investigation”  presents the first analysis of the medical records and associated data from the microcephaly reports investigated by the Brazilian Ministry of Health. The data is a significant addition to what is known about the situation in Brazil. The study’s authors, however, raise some questions and their conclusions may not be well supported by their data.
Leprosy is a disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae. While long recognized in humans, infections in various species of animals are less well known and understood. The U.S. National Hansen’s Disease Program states “Armadillos are the only other known natural hosts of leprosy bacteria.” That may not be true.