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Zika virus causing birth defects in Latin America

Discussion in 'Personal' started by Lascarina, Jan 24, 2016.

  1. Lascarina

    Lascarina Star commenter

    Apparently this virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. It is causing thousands of babies to be born microcephalic. Women in the areas where this is happening are being told to avoid pregnancy for two years in the hope that a vaccine may be developed during that time. It sounds horrendous and completely unforeseen. It must have huge implications for any woman of child bearing age who lives there but also for any female who is travelling there.

    Does anyone know why this has suddenly started to cause these birth defects in such huge numbers? Apparently more than 4,000 babies with microcephaly have been born in Brazil since October.
  2. xena-warrior

    xena-warrior Star commenter

    As far as I know, they found the virus in 5 babies' brains at autopsy. It's not exactly conclusive.
  3. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    I think there was/is a particularly large outbreak of the virus in South America. I think it has always caused birth defects but it's just the virus spreading (or perhaps moving to countries we consider newsworthy?)
    lanokia likes this.
  4. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    I've only heard of this diseas recently as it spread into the southern USA and became newsworthy.
  5. xena-warrior

    xena-warrior Star commenter

    In my reading of it, the virus is not contagious, and only transmitted via the mosquito. Are there suddenly more mosquitoes?
  6. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    I think it is just that it's impacting the USA so it makes the news more.

    I know there has been some speculation about climate change, warmer temperatures making the range of the mosquito wider... maybe wetter conditions help the breeding cycle?

    Not an expert so purely speculative.
  7. RedQuilt

    RedQuilt Star commenter

    Not forgetting the Olympics in Brazil this year.
    racroesus and lanokia like this.
  8. aspensquiver_2

    aspensquiver_2 Senior commenter

  9. aspensquiver_2

    aspensquiver_2 Senior commenter

    I mean your speculation about the effects of climate change.
  10. aspensquiver_2

    aspensquiver_2 Senior commenter

    Or affects - for those who don't think it matters which word you use. Lol
    racroesus likes this.
  11. rachel_g41

    rachel_g41 Established commenter

    Not just the US - I lived in S Am for a while and follow various news sources there, it's only in the last week or two become big news. Until very recently the big increase in cases had been confined to Brazil but in recent weeks it's beginning to be seen in other countries.

    There is no proven link but a coincidence between a big increase in cases of Zika and an increase in Brasil (depending which sources you look at) from around 150 cases of microcefalia in 2014 to over 3800 in 2015.

    Reports today say there are 3 cases of Zika in London
  12. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    My cousin is working in Rio at the moment and his wife has recently given birth there, fortunately all is o.k. Horrible.
  13. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    It's not speculation Aspens.....it's science.
    Malaria was once indigenous in the UK and Europe (lots of it in Shakespearian England). Then cold winters eliminated it. A warmer and wetter climate as we are experiencing now, is likely to allow the mosquito to spread further north, just as it may also cause the demise of species that can no longer survive in warmer temperatures.
  14. Lascarina

    Lascarina Star commenter

    Surely this sudden jump in the number of cases would have become newsworthy even were the Olympics not taking place there.
  15. Geoff Thomas

    Geoff Thomas Star commenter

    First thing is that the mosquito which is the vector for ZikV is not the same species as carries malaria.

    The Aedes has long been a carrier of dengue fever - I had a dose myself when I was working in Jamaica.

    In the last decade or so, chikungunya virus has also been carried by this insect.

    Zika has been noticed only since May 2015.

    Worryingly, a case of chikungunya resulted in a death in Valencis last autumn, so even southern Europe is affected.
    BelleDuJour likes this.
  16. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    The big problem with any virus disease is that they can evolve so rapidly.
  17. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    There's a very interesting programme about mosquitoes here: http://www.radiolab.org/story/kill-em-all/

    It describes how mosquitoes are being bred in their millions in mosquito factories, then released into mosquito infested areas to kill off the mosquito populations.

    It's a clever process. The mosquitoes they breed have been given a gene that will kill them before the larvae turn into mosquitoes. They then turn off that gene so the mosquitoes remain healthy. They separate the males from the females and only release the males. Those males will reproduce with the local females, passing on the deadly gene to their offspring who will die shortly after hatching.

    The net result has been a dramatic reduction, around 97%, in the mosquito population in those areas.

    The programme mentioned that it's been estimated that mosquitoes have been responsible for around 50% of human deaths since the dawn of time, so it goes on to discuss whether there are any positive things about mosquitoes and whether the power to eliminate them completely should be employed.

    The contributors said that nobody actually knows what the ecological impact of eliminating mosquitoes would be, for example, on the plus side, they play an important role in preventing, or at least slowing down, deforestation in some areas. Who wants to start building cities or creating farmland in areas where the death rate will be high? We don't know yet whether mosquitoes compete in some way with other critters and by eliminating them completely, we'll end up in a worse situation.

    The conclusion was that it is right to eliminate, or control their population in towns and cities, but to go no further.
  18. Geoff Thomas

    Geoff Thomas Star commenter

    Incidentally, I trust you all know that it is only the female mosquitoes which suck blood?

    The males are veggies.
  19. racroesus

    racroesus Star commenter

    Have you a very narrow waist?
  20. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Well, it has reminded me to invest in some mosquito-repellent when I toddle off to Gwada in a fortnight.

    Symptoms of Zika itself (and many contract it and remain asymptomatic) are mild. The worry is the link to birth defects.

    Wife was worried in case she might become contagious as she has a few pregnant colleagues but that has been ruled out. Well, except for transmission by the route of exchange of bodily fluids during sex.

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