Developmental delays persist as Brazil’s Zika babies grow up


The Zika virus has faded from the world’s headlines. But the damage the strange mosquito-borne virus inflicted on some children whose mothers were infected during pregnancy very much remains.

A new study, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, reports that in a group of Zika babies from Brazil who are being followed to assess their progress, 14 percent had severe developmental problems.

This was higher than previous studies have suggested, said Dr. Karin Nielsen-Saines, one of the authors.

These children scored unusually low scores on testing of their cognition, motor, or language skills, or they had visual or hearing impairment.

“It was either both things or one or the other,” explained Nielsen-Saines, a professor of pediatric infectious diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Nielsen-Saines and her co-authors, a number of whom are from Brazil’s Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, wanted to chart what Zika would do over the long term to children born to mothers infected during pregnancy. So they followed a cohort of 182 children.

Of those, 131 were brought in by their parents for follow-up testing that involved at least one of the following: brain imaging, eye examinations, hearing tests, and a standardized test used to assess the development of children in the first few years of life. The test is called the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, or Bayley-III.

The testing was done in the second year of life for these young children, between the ages of 12 to 18 months in most cases. Nielsen-Saines said the work is ongoing and the group is currently assessing later data from these children, who they plan to study until at least the age of 7.

Of the total, 94 of the children underwent both imaging and the Bayley-III assessment; 63 percent of them had scores that were in the normal range for cognition, motor, and language skills. But 14 percent had severe neurodevelopmental delays.

Six of the children had microcephaly and were so profoundly impacted that in essence the Bayley test could not be conducted, Nielsen-Saines said. Another roughly 15 percent had moderate developmental delays, she said.

“It sounds pretty consistent with what we’ve known. Maybe a little bit higher. But pretty consistent,” said Dr. Rita Driggers, medical director for maternal fetal medicine at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., of the findings. She was not involved in the study.

Nielsen-Saines said it’s important to continue to assess these children to see if some will catch up to their peers over time or if the impairments will be lifelong.

Driggers noted that because the study is an observational one, the results have to be interpreted with a bit of caution. Parents of children who were not hitting developmental milestones might have been more inclined to bring them in for testing, effectively skewing the numbers to make the impact of Zika infection look worse.

Nielsen-Saines raised another caveat. While all of the children in the study were born to women who had tested positive for Zika infection during their pregnancies, the researchers do not know how many of the babies were actually infected in the womb. It’s known that the virus does not always cross the placenta to infect a fetus.

The report also looked at whether doctors could use brain imaging to accurately predict whether babies born to women who had been infected with Zika would go on to experience developmental delays.

The researchers found that 16 percent of children whose imaging test showed some abnormality were actually developing normally, but 2 percent of children who looked like they had normal brain scans had developmental problems.

“So maybe the imaging — especially if you’re using MRIs — might be too sensitive in picking up things that are not specific or don’t have a clinical repercussion,” Nielsen-Saines said.

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World Cup to Debut Mind-Controlled Robotic Suit


“The beautiful game” will have a robotic addition at this year’s World Cup kickoff.
Clad in a robotic body suit and a cap adorned with electrodes that will detect brain signals and cue leg movement, a paralyzed Brazilian will take to the pitch and move with the assistance of a specially designed exoskeleton during the opening ceremony of the World Cup on June 12.

Legions of fans tuning in to watch the event will see the debut of a technology that, according to its creators, will one day use people’s brain waves to control robotic limbs and effectively make wheelchairs obsolete. This initial demonstration is merely an early prototype, but Duke University neuroengineer Miguel Nicolelis, the man behind the project, envisions a future in which the brain–machine interface will allow individuals who have lost mobility from accidents or disease to get back on their feet—even if a robotic suit is needed to make that happen.

The technology hinges on sensors that listen to a barrage of electrical signals in the brain, reading and translating them into digital commands that, in turn, spark an artificial device to act on the brain’s prompts.

Nicolelis wrote about his plans for this World Cup demonstration in the September 2012 Scientific American (pdf). To learn more about the current state of the technology and exactly what to expect on and off the field, SA spoke with Nicolelis just a week before kickoff.

Several years ago you were already hoping your technology would be ready for a debut at the World Cup opening ceremonies. Can you bring us up to speed on what the exoskeleton will be able to do on June 12?
The eight patients we have worked with in the last few months, who are [mostly] in their late 20s, are able to walk in the lab with the exoskeleton and kick the ball. But they also got a sensation they were walking, which is one of the key objectives here with this project—to give them a feeling that this is not a machine carrying them but that they are actually walking. This is already happening, because not only are they controlling the movements with brain activity but they are getting feedback from the device delivered to their arms where they still have sensation. They all have this phantom sensation—like a phantom limb sensation—and that is very new. We didn’t know that would happen but that is a very important find.

For the World Cup demo we have only a very limited time so it’s more of a symbolic gesture that science can provide the kind of hope that millions of patients around the world would like to have to one day walk again. It’s actually a kickoff for our project. In 16 months we went from zero to full project—we were able to deliver this on time and show that the brain–machine interface has a really big future.

So, what will the selected individual actually be doing that day? Walking out onto the field and kicking the ball as you wrote about in 2012?
I cannot tell you what we are going to be doing. I would not tell my mother, let alone Scientific American—sorry. It’s a surprise for a billion people.

It’s certainly technologically complex to fine-tune communication between the brain and robotic circuitry. How much of the action of the exoskeleton is being controlled by the person and how much is actually automated?
Without the person there is no movement. We are using a noninvasive technique that is an EEG- [electroencephalography-] based interface. So the person has to imagine what kind of movement he or she wants to make and that decision triggers what the exoskeleton does—when it stops, when it kicks the ball. In 2002 I published a paper where I discussed this concept of what we call “share control” in which the higher order decisions are taken by the brain and lower level mechanics are taken by the robot. In real time the person is processing the feedback from the exoskeleton so there is symbiosis. I cannot tell you what percentage is from each.

Right now, is the brain sending that initial “go” signal but the actual steps and kick are preprogrammed into the suit’s computer?
We have a couple patients who modulate the EEG from step to step. We discovered some patients are actually capable of doing that and can control the velocity of the device. This is just coming out in the last few weeks. We have many things that we are going to publish throughout the next few months showing that we have actually extended the abilities of this noninvasive interface. We are basically creating a mental language for the patients to have a variety of actions that they can control and we are just in the beginning of this. The potential is pretty big.

Earlier on you thought you would have to implant electrodes directly into the brain to manipulate the robotic limb, but you did not actually end up doing that. These young adults are wearing a cap with external sensors, right?
The implantable technology is not ready. It needs to show benefits that outweigh the potential dangers of a neurosurgical procedure. I’m a very strong proponent of this technology but it’s not ready for prime time yet. It has to be miniaturized and improved. Our eight patients are very happy with the results and I don’t think they would be happy with implantable technologies that cannot deliver more benefits for locomotion than we have for external sensors.
With new implants we designed—discussed in the journal Nature Methods this month—we can now simultaneously record about 512 channels wirelessly and simultaneously, which no one has done before. These animals [monkeys] were able to control wheelchairs—they drove the wheelchairs around and did all sorts of tasks just by brain control showing that this is possible and has a very nice future, but it’s just not ready for patients right now. [Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.]

The signal comes from EEG but my understanding is EEG is prone to noise and contamination, especially from the muscles and from eye movements. Have you done anything to prove that the signals are coming from the brain and not these other sources?
We are recording EEG simultaneously so we can see if there is any effect.

In theory, could the exoskeleton be controlled equally well by sound or finger movement or something like that?
I don’t know. We haven’t tried.

How did you find the Brazilian patients you’ve been working with for the last few months?
We did it with health authorities in Brazil. We partnered with the largest spinal cord hospital in the country—they have 65,000 patients—and selected the eight we decided were best for this study.

Did you want young adults because they were relatively lightweight?
They are from 22 to 38 or so, so they are in a different range of weights, and some of them are para-athletes so they are healthy young individuals.

Which technologies are novel here—the EEG cap, the suit, the software that processes signal?
I haven’t seen any exoskeleton that is controlled by voluntary brain activity and provides feedback to the patent simultaneously. That doesn’t exist—or at least it hasn’t been published in the literature.

How far is this technology from being usable by paralyzed people around the world?
It’s the same question people asked when people went to the moon, and we already know the answer. This is how science progresses. You make big advances and then you discover what can be done and then you try to apply this by developing new versions that can be used by everybody that needs it.

If things don’t go as planned on the big day and the suit does not operate according to specifications or the patient gets nervous, is there some sort of backup switch that can operate the system?
We have hours and hours of video footage of these patients walking using this device that we will make public and available, and we are hoping that the suit will work.

Is there any particular obstacle you are concerned about for that day like cell phones in the audience or anything like that?
My obstacle right now is just journalists. There are too many pessimists who cannot see the big picture of what this means for science in a developing country and who only look at scientists as a bunch of people that create bombs and things to kill people. We need to portray science as a good endeavor that can improve mankind. That’s what we are trying to do.

Why did you choose the World Cup to debut this technology?
Because the World Cup is Brazil. Brazil is the World Cup. There’s no other country that embodies the beauty of football like Brazil. It makes total sense. We have plans for the Paralympic Games, too. That’s in Brazil also. Don’t worry, we’ll be there.

Source:www.scientificamerican.com

Brazil takes major steps to reduce rainforest loss by 500% in 10 years


Brazil is one of the largest countries in the world and is home to the bulk of the Amazon rainforest, the largest rain forest on Earth.

The Amazon spans 40% of the South American continent, is as large as about 48 of the 50 United States and produces 20% of the world’s oxygen.  Rainforests, in general, are home to about 50% of the world’s animal species.

Because of the rainforests being home to so much of Earth’s life, destroying it has done serious damage.  Deforestation was on a rampant high for much of the last 30 years and only in the last decade have we begun to seriously slow down the loss of this precious resource.

Brazil, in particular, as home to so much of the Amazon, has gone out of its way to lead the charge in preservance.  Six major factors have played a roll in the turn-around.

 

1. Protected Areas

In 2003, a new administration began labeling areas of the country as protected, so much so that now over 50% of the Brazilian Amazon is considered protected land.  This took into account cooperation with indigenous people and has curbed the illegal logging industry.

A map of protected areas (light purple) and indigenous lands (dark purple) in the Amazon. Deforested areas are in yellow. By strategically protecting lands along the advancing arc of deforestation, the government was able to maximize the effectiveness of protected areas. Photo credit: Woods Hole Research Center.

 

2. Industry Cooperation

Both cattle ranching and soybean production have been the driving force behind deforestation.  It is the companies that use these things, like McDonalds and Cargill, that have put pressure on the country by freezing all imports from recently cleared rainforest.

 

3. Satellite Monitoring

Monitoring the forest in real-time has allowed those in charge to make informed decisions and provides up-to-date information on forestry in the area.  Now, if someone is hidden away, deep inside the forest, doing logging operations, they’ll be found out immediately via satellite.

Roads often act as a catalyst for deforestation by allowing development in the remote interior regions of forests, resulting in a signature fishbone pattern of deforestation. Photo credit: NASA

 

4. Improved Enforcement

In addition to know what’s going on by satellite, they need people on the ground enforcing.  The Brazilian government got tough on violators and issued a number of high-profile fines, patrolling roads (the usual area where violators are found).

 

5. International Incentives

Countries around the world have become increasingly interested in the preservance of global rainforests.  Through the UN, we have created the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Programme, or REDD+, at the 2007 climate summit in Bali.  This enables high emissions countries to pay for carbon storage by preserving forests in developing countries.  It gives low emissions countries incentive to keep their emissions low.

Additionally, countries are investing on their own.  Norway, for instance, has emerged as a leading force in forest conservation by pledging $1 billion to rainforest preservation efforts in the Amazon, or $5 per ton of sequestered carbon.

 

6. Political Will

Ultimately, none of this could have been done without the power of the Brazilian people.  The collective consciousness has sparked intensely among those citizens that want to go above and beyond to protect their forests.  Most, if not all, of the government action has been accredited to the peoples’ will, including programs like The Zero Deforestation movement, as well as the cooperation of environmentalists, indigenous groups, rubber trappers, and unions.

The Lethal Suspects for Microcephaly in Brazil, With Zika Virus at the Bottom of the List


We often hear that correlation is not causation, so why are world renowned scientists treating the Zika virus as the sole cause of microcephaly in Brazil when there are so many other factors? 

Since the virus Zika was blamed for a cluster of cases in northeastern Brazil of the devastating birth defect microcephaly, the mainstream media have been dominated by fear of a Zika pandemic. Meanwhile, the real culprit(s) behind the surge in microcephaly in that corner of Brazil have been ignored, with the exception of a few scientists, and even fewer journalists.

This story started on Feb. 1, 2016, when the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a pandemic emergency with the Zika virus, a much milder cousin of Dengue fever. The WHO blamed Zika alone for the sharp uptick inmicrocephaly (shrunken heads, resulting in shrunken and undeveloped brains, with a wide range of symptoms and disabilities possible, depending on the severity of the case) in babies born in impoverished areas of northeast Brazil.

Politics and an unscientific approach ensued, with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) joining forces with the WHO. The twin U.S. health care agencies launched a propaganda campaign of fear to justify a money grab from U.S. taxpayers. But for a change, Congress developed a backbone and denied the pleas of President Obama, CDC Director Tom Frieden, and NIH Director Anthony Fauci, who were seeking $1.9 billion for Zika vaccine R&D.

On June 28, the “Zika Bill” was blocked by Senate Democrats, due to issues over the “provisions of the bill,” but apparently not the lower price tag of $1.1 billion.

Missing CSI Investigation

Whether it’s a failed structure or a broken marriage, it often isn’t one item alone that causes the collapse, but a series of them in a cascade of negative events that does the final damage.

Instead of announcing the Zika pandemic, the three international health agencies should have launched a CSI-type investigation in that quarter of Brazil examining all of the environmental triggers and toxins that might be contributing to the surge in microcephaly. But that didn’t happen.

“The increase in microcephaly in that part of the world is unique to Brazil. You don’t see rate increases anywhere else,” Dr. James Lyons-Weiler said in a telephone interview on the likely suspects causing the rise in deformed fetuses and babies.

He explained that the “interactions between two or more of the potential causal factors are rarely ever studied by CDC’s scientists. They are not very good with studying interactions,” which might be the underlying cause of an infectious disease or spread of a virus.

Author and research scientist Lyons-Weiler’s early problem solving skills in recognizing the utility in information in DNA-hybridization led him into deeper research on the evolution of diseases, cancer, and mammals.

In 2015, Dr. Lyons-Weiler launched the Institute for Pure and Applied Knowledge (IPAK), a non-profit organization that since its inception has been challenging half-baked science taken as gospel.

In a co-authored paper that Lyons-Weiler led, his scientific team identified nine likely suspects for the rise in microcephaly. The unpublished paper to date, “Areas of Research and Preliminary Evidence on Microcephaly,Guillain-Barré Syndrome and Zika Virus Infection in the Western Hemisphere,” outlined the suspects.

They range from “Direct Zika-related microcephaly through unspecified mechanisms” and “molecular mimicry” in two types of vaccines given to pregnant women, to “Glyphosate toxicity in bovine products” leaching into those vaccines, and the unintended outcome of genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes, whose world pilot program was launched in 2012 in that same northeast corner of Brazil by the British concern Oxitec.

“The Zika virus has a protein that matches a human protein within 96 percent. Zika also has an element in its genomic sequence similar to one in other flaviviruses, too, like West Nile to Dengue fever. That means Zikacould enter the placenta and blood brain barrier of infants. Yet since there is no increase in acute microcephaly outside of Brazil, if it’s Zika, there may be a missing molecular or chemical co-factor,” Lyons-Weiler explained.

The ability of viruses to produce specific disease symptoms is often known to be modified by co-factors.  “Something is different in Brazil,” said Lyons-Weiler.

Overlooked Glyphosate

On June 1, 2015, Denmark, a farming country, banned the sale and use of Monsanto’s ubiquitous weed killer Roundup, as a result of the Danish Environment Authority declaring glyphosate as a carcinogen. Earlier that year, the WHO classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

The ban and the statement had little effect on removing the sale ofglyphosate-containing products in the United States and South America. And that has bugged MIT Senior Research Scientist Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., who conducts research at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

At this year’s Autism One Conference in Chicago, Dr. Seneff presented a 66-slide deck, “Glyphosate, Folic Acid, Neural Tube Defects and Autism,” highlighting potential associations between chemicals, biology, and children susceptible to autism. In mid-June, Seneff presented at a U.S. Congressional hearing on glyphosate, in Washington, D.C.

In an email, Stephanie Seneff wrote: “It is ridiculous that the only thing the research community seems to be focused on with respect to themicrocephaly epidemic in NE Brazil is the Zika virus. While the virus may be a factor in the epidemic, there are many other potential factors that deserve at least equal attention. These include:

(1) “Simultaneous exposure to two herbicides—glufosinate and glyphosate—due to the recent introduction of GMO glufosinate-resistant soybeans on top of the glyphosate-resistant soybeans (glufosinate substitution for glutamine during protein synthesis is a direct path to microcephaly via disruption of asparagine synthase);

(2) “The addition of larvicides directly to the drinking water;

(3) “The introduction of the GM mosquitoes from larvae that were likely fedglyphosate-contaminated sugar and glyphosate-contaminated blood following maturation;

(4) “The heavy use of ethanol as a fuel in the trucks driving through the region (derived from GM Roundup-ready sugar beets or sugar cane sprayed with Roundup just before harvest), and;

(5) “The recent implementation of policies that encourage vaccination of pregnant women with Tdap, flu vaccine, and possibly MMR vaccine. All of these potential contributors should be thoroughly investigated before concluding that Zika is the entire story with the epidemic.”

What do all of these potential triggers mean? Even if they are not the direct cause of microcephaly, they are contributing to both polluting the land and thus plant, animal, and human life. That should give governments around the world pause.

To date, it has not worked out that way yet.

Where there is big opportunity for billions of dollars in profits, there is Big Industry—Big Pharma, Big Agriculture, Big you name it—led by multinational corporations that seek home run-like profits. There are also big governments that either look the other way or are fine with raking in some of those profits, too.

“The timing is wrong for Zika” said Lyons-Weiler, who pointed to a study showing an increase in microcephaly in Brazil two years before Zika made it to Brazil.

“What is clear is the experimentation with whole-cell pertussis vaccination in the slums is ongoing, because the population cannot afford the fee for the clinic, where the safer acellular vaccine is available. The increase inmicrocephaly began one year after Brazil adopted a mandatory prenatal care program, which includes vaccinations during pregnancy,” he concluded.

Zika is not about science. It’s about money and profit at the expense of the people, domestic and foreign.

What we really know about Zika virus?


Whatever we read and know it’s just an iceberg.
This is not mentioned in medical text or any text of virology..even if mentioned..not in such detail. It’s great that no report of Zika infection from Rio..thanks to the people of Brazil who made this Olympic safe from Zika.
So the issues are which we should discuss are…
1) Why suddenly this Zika became too infective and spread from Brazil to Florida beach?
2) Is there a direct relationship of Zika and Microcephaly?
3) Are the banned pesticides or larvacides responsible for microcephaly? And not the virus itself?
4) For those who are infected may develop pre senile dementia in the long run? Does Zika affects the adult brain too?
5) Is this Zika spread like Ebola is related to global warming?
6) Till now we don’t have a cure for Zika infection. Whatever is there is just symptomatic like in cases of Ebola or Dengue.
7) People are claiming for a vaccine but how effective would be this in phase IV ?
😎 Convince me that it’s not a normal strain..and it’s a some GM?
9) How GM mosquitoes work against Zika?
10) Chemitrail….Yes or No. This was done in Florida few days back but the government is covering this. Why?

 

I hope someone would answer my silly questions.

Please post your comment in the comment box.

Zika: Brazil Admits It’s Not the Virus


Zika-Brazil-Admits-Its-Not-the-Virus-fb-768x403

Amidst growing fear-based propaganda warning of the threat of Zika virus comes a quiet admission from health officials in Brazil: Zika alone may not be responsible for the rise in birth defects that plagued parts of the country.

While there is some evidence suggesting Zika virus may be linked to the birth defect microcephaly, and the virus has been spreading throughout Brazil, rates of the condition have only risen to very high rates in the northeast section of Brazil. Since the virus has spread throughout Brazil, but extremely high rates of microcephaly have not, officials are now being forced to admit that something else is likely at play.

Dr. Fatima Marinho, director of information and health analysis at Brazil’s ministry of health, told the journal Nature, “We suspect that something more than Zika virus is causing the high intensity and severity of cases.”[1]

Nearly 90 Percent of Brazil’s Microcephaly Cases Occurred in the Northeast

Since last November, more than 1,700 confirmed cases of congenital microcephaly or other birth defects of the central nervous system have been reported in Brazil.

When the cases first began and were reportedly linked to Zika virus, health officials believed they’d see “an explosion of birth defects” across Brazil, according to Marinho.[2] But that hasn’t happened.

Data compiled by Marinho and colleagues, which has been submitted for publication, suggest socio-economic factors may be involved. Most of the women who gave birth to babies with microcephaly were poor and lived in small cities or on the outskirts of big cities.

In addition, the outbreak occurred in a largely poverty-stricken agricultural area of Brazil that uses large amounts of banned pesticides.

Between these factors and the lack of sanitation and widespread vitamin A and zinc deficiency, you have the basic framework for an increase in poor health outcomes among newborn infants in that area.

Environmental pollution and toxic pesticide exposure have been positively linked to a wide array of adverse health effects, including birth defects. For instance:

  • Vitamin A deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of microcephaly[3]
  • The CDC lists malnutrition and exposure to toxic chemicals as known risk factors[4]
  • The CDC also notes certain infections during pregnancy, including rubella, cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis and others, are risk factors

Data is Lacking to Confirm Zika-Microcephaly Link

It’s also been suggested that microcephaly may be the result of Zika virus occurring alongside other infections, such as dengue and chikungunya.

The Brazilian doctor who first reportedly established the link between Zika virus and microcephaly is even considering whether another disease, Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV), may be involved, as BVDV proteins were also detected in the brains of three fetuses with microcephaly.

BVDV causes birth defects in cattle but is not known to infect people. Researchers suggested that infection with Zika virus may make it easier for BVDV to infect humans.[5]

Adding to the complexities, much of the microcephaly data from Brazil comes from incomplete hospital reports. In most cases, tests to confirm Zika infection were not carried out.

In June 2016, the Zika in Infants and Pregnancy Study was launched in Puerto Rico. It aims to monitor up to 10,000 pregnant women to examine Zika virus along with nutritional, socio-economic and environmental factors and their potential link to birth defects. However, the results of a similar study have only raised further doubts.

12,000 Zika Cases Confirmed in Pregnant Colombian Women — Zero Microcephaly Cases

According to a report by the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI), there are serious questions about whether Zika virus is the cause of microcephaly. They cite the preliminary results of a New England Journal of Medicine study, which followed nearly 12,000 pregnant Colombian women infected with Zika virus.[6]

No cases of microcephaly were reported in their babies as of May 2016, yet four cases of microcephaly were reported among women who had Zika infection with no symptoms and were therefore not included in the study.

The researchers then speculated that this means there could be four times as many cases of Zika infection that are unreported, for a total of at least 60,000 Zika-infected pregnancies in Colombia.

Using this data, an analysis revealed the rate of microcephaly to be what would be expected in any area, whether Zika is in the picture or not, which is 2 cases in 10,000 births.[7] According to NECSI:[8]

“This gives a consistent interpretation that there is no direct link between Zika and microcephaly except for random co-occurrence.

We note that the base rate of microcephaly in the absence of Zika is 140 per year in Colombia, which is consistent with the approximately 50 microcephaly cases in the first [four] months of 2016, only [four] of which have been connected to Zika. When interpreting Zika as the cause, background cases must be subtracted.”

By June 2016, 11 total microcephaly cases had been reported in women with Zika infections in Colombia. If Zika and microcephaly are linked, NECSI pointed out that the total number of microcephaly cases should rise dramatically in the next few months, reaching more than 10 microcephaly-Zika births each week.[9]

NECSI also suggested, “An alternative cause of microcephaly in Brazil could be the pesticide pyriproxyfen, which is cross-reactive with retinoic acid, which causes microcephaly, and is being used in drinking water.”[10]

WHO Expert: Zika Response ‘Completely Hysterical’

Florence Fouque, a World Health Organization (WHO) expert on animals that carry viruses, called the public response to the Zika virus “completely hysterical.”[11] She blamed the hysteria on the findings that the virus affects pregnant women and can be sexually transmitted.

“It’s like AIDS,” she told PRI. “People make this link and that’s why they are really afraid.”[12] At one restaurant in downtown Miami, Florida, where a handful of Zika cases were detected in August 2016, insect repellent was placed on all the tables.[13]

Even Oliver Brady, an epidemiologist with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who was asked by Brazilian officials to assess the Zika-microcephaly situation, said there’s no conclusive evidence that Zika causes birth defects in humans.

He told PRI that while animal studies have shown the virus attacks brain cells, this isn’t “final proof:”[14]

“You see that with a lot of arboviruses [viruses spread by mosquitoes and other insects] … They have pathogenic qualities and if you put them in the right tissue then they will cause some sort of damage. And they tend to be quite transmissible across a variety of barriers anyway.

So it doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s the mechanism that’s happening out there in the field, even if it does work in the lab.”

National Institutes of Health Launches Trial for Experimental Zika Vaccine

The U.S. is among those ignoring data and rushing to launch a vaccine against Zika virus before it’s even known whether it’s causing birth defects. What is known, however, is that experimental vaccines have real risks, which are often downplayed in the wake of perceived global “emergencies” such as Zika.

In August 2016, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced it launched a clinical trial of an experimental Zika vaccine — again, before there is conclusive proof that Zika causes microcephaly.

Eighty healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 35 will be vaccinated with varying doses of the experimental vaccine. No placebos will be given. The vaccine is said to be similar to a West Nile Virus vaccine that was previously developed by the NIH, but has not yet been approved. This alone should be a red flag, as should the disastrous outcome of the CYD-TDV vaccine, the first dengue vaccine approved by WHO in April 2016.

Dengue Vaccine Hints at Potential Problems With Zika Vaccines

Dr. Scott B. Halstead, former senior adviser of the Dengue Vaccine Initiative and the founder of Children’s Vaccine Initiative, told the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy:[15]

“It’s happened. We have a vaccine that enhances dengue … It’s clear as the nose on my face: Vaccine recipients less than 5 years old had five to seven times more rates of hospitalizations for severe dengue virus than placebo controls.”

He’s referring to the results of a three-year study published in the New England Journal of Medicine,[16] which suggest the vaccine causes antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE). Halstead explained:[17]“Over time, you make and keep protective levels of antibody from the initial infection, but you lose the cross-reactive antibodies … That allows a second dengue infection to cause severe illness … “

At this point, it’s unknown how this relates to Zika virus, but it’s possible that pre-existing immunity to dengue may lead to more severe infection with Zika virus. The University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy quoted concerns voiced by Dr. Philip K. Russell, the former director of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, as well as founding president and chairman of the Sabin Vaccine Institute:

WHAT OTHERS ARE READING

Zika virus: Brazil dismisses link between larvicide and microcephaly


One state has suspended use of pyriproxyfen in drinking water after claims the chemical, rather than the Zika virus, could be behind the rise of the birth defect.

A dispute has broken out in Brazil over whether the Zika virus is responsible for a rise in cases of microcephaly after a report by Argentinian doctors claimed a larvicide used in drinking water was instead to blame.

Brazilian health officials were on Monday forced to address claims that the larvicide pyriproxyfen, which is used to control the Aedes aegypti mosquito, could be associated with a surge in babies born with the condition after one state said it was suspending use of the chemical.

A report last week by Argentinian group Physicians in Crop-Sprayed Towns suggested pyriproxyfen might be causing the deformity, which impairs foetal brain development.

Jackeline, 26, holds her 4-month old son who was born with microcephaly, in Olinda, near Recife, Brazil

Jackeline, 26, holds her 4-month old son who was born with microcephaly in Olinda, near Recife, Brazil  The organisation said the substance had been introduced into drinking water supplies since 2014 in affected areas of Brazil.

“In the area where most sick persons live, a chemical larvicide producing malformations in mosquitoes has been applied for 18 months, and that this poison (pyroproxifen) is applied by the State on drinking water used by the affected population,” the report said.

It added that cases of microcephaly being found in areas where pyriproxyfen was used was“not a coincidence” and said the Brazilian Ministry of Health was ignoring its responsibility”.

The report also pointed out that there had been no cases of microcephaly in other countries affected by Zika, such as Colombia, which has the highest incidence of the virus after Brazil.

In response, the local government in Rio Grande do Sul, a state in the south of Brazil, suspended the use of pyriproxyfen on Saturday.

“We decided to suspend the use of the product in drinking water until we have a position from the Ministry of Health, and so, we reinforce further still the appeal to the population to eliminate any possible mosquito breeding site,” said Joao Gabbardo dos Reis, state health secretary in Rio Grande do Sul.

However, the federal government was quick to dismiss the fears, insisting there had been no scientific study that linked pyriproxyfen to microcephaly.

“Unlike the relationship between the Zika virus and microcephaly, which has had its confirmation shown in tests that indicated the presence of the virus in samples of blood, tissue and amniotic fluid, the association between the use of pyriproxyfen and microcephaly has no scientific basis,” the statement said.

“It’s important to state that some localities that do not use pyriproxyfen also had reported cases of microcephaly.”

The government said it only used larvicides recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Some experts have raised questions over what is behind the Brazilian spike in microcephaly, particularly due to the absence of a similar surge in cases in other areas hit by the virus. Others have also suggested that it has been grossly over-reported in Brazil. The country has registered a total of 3,852 suspected cases, but of the roughly 1,200 investigated so far, just 462 have been confirmed. Evidence of Zika infection was found in just 41 of the affected babies.

Last week, a report by researchers in Paraiba, one of the worst hit areas, found that the state had been seeing high numbers of microcephaly cases since 2012, with the condition more common in 2014 than last year, when Zika virus was first recorded in Brazil.

But the WHO says a definitive link between the disease and the condition is within weeks of being confirmed. Two separate studies last week also found evidence of Zika virus in the brain tissue of aborted foetuses or babies who died soon after birth, who had microcephaly.

Scientists around the world are currently racing to develop a vaccine for the virus, with clinical trials expected within a year to 18 months.

Marcelo Castro, health minister, told journalists in Brazil that there was “no doubt” that there was a direct link between Zika and microcephaly.

“For us, theres no doubt at all that the microcephaly epidemic is a consequence of the epidemic of Zika virus, which did not exist in the Americas before,” he said, in comments reported by O Globo.

ABOUT

Zika virus

The most common symptoms of the Zika disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes), usually lasting from several days to a week, and most patients don’t need hospitalisation. However the outbreak in Brazil has led to instances of Guillain-Barre syndrome and pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects

How it spreads

  • Through mosquitoes, which mostly spread the virus during the day
  • Through sexual transmission
  • Mosquitoes also spread dengue and chikungunya viruses
  • There is no vaccine

How to prevent it

  • Avoid getting mosquito bites by using insect repellants, and wearing long-sleeved shirts and trousers
  • Use air conditioning and/or a window screen to keep mosquitoes outside
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net
  • Reduce the number of mosquitoes by emptying standing water from containers such as flowerpots or bucket

Brazilian government denies microcephaly/larvicide link


Government’s response is scientifically flawed

Recently we broke the story of the Argentine and Brazilian doctors’ and health researchers’ reports linking an increase in cases of the birth defect microcephaly in Brazil with pyriproxyfen, a larvicide sprayed to combat mosquitoes.

Babies with microcephaly are born with an abnormally small head and often have brain damage.

The story quickly went viral, generating a mass of media coverage – for example, articles in Ecowatch and The Ecologist.

The doctors’ and researchers’ reports challenged the popular assumption that the microcephaly cases were caused by the Zika virus, which is carried by mosquitoes. The larvicide pyriproxyfen was being sprayed to kill mosquitoes, but the doctors and researchers believed that the ‘cure’ for the mosquitoes may have been the actual cause of the birth defects.

Predictably, health officials in Brazil have now dismissed any potential link between microcephaly and the larvicide (see article below). This is expected, as they could be liable for any harm caused by this state-sponsored spraying programme.

Notably, the Brazilian federal government’s response is scientifically flawed. It states that “there had been no scientific study that linked pyriproxyfen to microcephaly”. But the inadequacy of industry-sponsored regulatory tests for teratogenic (causing birth defects) effects of pesticides is well known.

And pyriproxyfen does not appear to be well studied by independent scientists.

The Brazilian government also said, “Unlike the relationship between the Zika virus and microcephaly, which has had its confirmation shown in tests that indicated the presence of the virus in samples of blood, tissue and amniotic fluid, the association between the use of pyriproxyfen and microcephaly has no scientific basis.”

However, these tests showing the presence of the Zika virus in the blood of newborns and/or mothers affected by microcephaly do not prove a causative link between Zika and microcephaly. This presence could well be coincidental (the person happens to carry the virus but it’s not causally connected to birth defects) or “opportunistic” (taking advantage of a weakened immune system).

The government’s statement that “some localities that do not use pyriproxyfen also had reported cases of microcephaly” proves nothing. Glyphosate herbicides are also linked with microcephaly and are sprayed on GM crops in large areas of the country. And several studies link exposure to other pesticides with anencephaly, a more extreme form of microcephaly in which the foetus does not develop a forebrain.

What is needed before the pyriproxyfen/microcephaly link can be dismissed is epidemiological studies to see if there is an increase in microcephaly in areas where pyriproxyfen has been sprayed, as well as controlled animal studies using realistic doses comparable to those to which humans are exposed.

* Fears grow over a link between pyriproxyfen and microcephaly but the Brazilian health ministry played any link down

Health officials in Brazil have dismissed claims that a larvicide could be responsible for a rise in cases of microcephaly, and not Zika virus.

A report by Argentinian doctors suggested pyriproxyfen, which is used to control the Aedes aegypti mosquito, could be associated with the deformity, which impairs foetal brain development.

The organisation, Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns, said the substance had been introduced into drinking water supplies since 2014 in affected areas of Brazil.

“In the area where most sick persons live, a chemical larvicide producing malformations in mosquitoes has been applied for 18 months, and that this poison (pyroproxifen) is applied by the state on drinking water used by the affected population,” the report said.

In response, the local government in Rio Grande do Sul, a state in the south of Brazil, suspended the use of pyriproxyfen on Saturday.

“We decided to suspend the use of the product in drinking water until we have a position from the ministry of health, and so, we reinforce further still the appeal to the population to eliminate any possible mosquito breeding site,” said Joao Gabbardo dos Reis, state health secretary in Rio Grande do Sul.

However, the federal government was quick to dismiss the fears in a statement.

It said there had been no scientific study that linked pyriproxyfen to microcephaly, which has been confirmed in 462 babies, with 41 cases linked to the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

“Unlike the relationship between the Zika virus and microcephaly, which has had its confirmation shown in tests that indicated the presence of the virus in samples of blood, tissue and amniotic fluid, the association between the use of pyriproxyfen and microcephaly has no scientific basis,” the statement said.

“It’s important to state that some localities that do not use pyriproxyfen also had reported cases of microcephaly.”

The government said it only used larvicides recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Hawaii declared a state of emergency over Zika on Monday, becoming the first US state to take such action.

David Ige, governor of the islands, said that the proclamation was “a preventative measure” as there have been no cases of the virus being transmitted in the state so far. Four people in Hawaii have caught the virus while abroad, the Center for Disease Control said.

There have, however, been some cases of dengue fever on the island of Hawaii. The statement from the governor’s office said such cases “continue to be fewer” and further between, but the battle to break the cycle of transmission continues.

“There have been no locally acquired Zika cases in the US or Hawaii, and we’d like to keep it that way,” said Mr Ige. “This is about getting in front of the situation across the state.”

Around 50 people in the US are known to have contracted the virus, in 17 states. All of them had travelled to Latin America.

Scientists around the world are currently racing to develop a vaccine for Zika virus, with clinical trials expected within a year to 18 months.

Rio 2016: Athletes warned to keep mouths closed when swimming in faeces-infested water


All efforts by the government to clean the Rio waters seem to have failed.

rio-olympics-water-contaminated.jpg

Athletes competing in the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil have been warned by doctors, engineers, and scientists to keep their mouths shut while participating in activities in the water.

Researchers found that many of the beaches in Rio de Janeiro have been long contaminated with raw sewage, household garbage, and even dead bodies, creating hazardous swimming conditions for the 500,000 people expected to descend on the city in August.

“Foreign athletes will literally be swimming in human crap, and they risk getting sick from all those microorganisms,” Rio paediatrician Dr Daniel Becker told the New York Times. “It’s sad but also worrisome.”

The Brazilian government had promised to clean the pathogen-infested Guanabara Bay in 2014, but those efforts failed.

Stelberto Soares, a municipal engineer who has worked on Rio sanitation issues for decades, said that the government’s efforts to clean the waters were superficial at best.

“They can try to block big items like sofas and dead bodies, but these rivers are pure sludge,” he said, “so the bacteria and viruses are going to just pass through.”

“We just have to keep our mouths closed,” said 24-year-old Afrodite Zegers of the Dutch sailing team – one of the 10,000 athletes from 205 countries competing in Brazil.

Scientists and researchers found a wide array of disease-causing viruses and bacteria that can cause ailments such as diarrhea, vomiting, and death in people will poor immune systems.

The International Olympic Committee maintained that the waters where athletes will compete meet World Health Organisation safety standards.

The Games will get underway amid a tumultuous time for the South American country. It is the veritable epicentre of the Zika virus global health crisis, higher crime, a massive police strike, and impeachment proceedings for former president Dilma Rousseff.

However, despite the political crises in the country, public health advocates feel the Olympics have helped bring the issues of sanitation to the attention of the international community.

“Our biggest plague, our biggest environmental problem, is basic sanitation,” said Rio de Janeiro environment official Andrea Correa said. “The Olympics has woken people up to the problem.”

The Lethal Suspects for Microcephaly in Brazil, With Zika Virus at the Bottom of the List


We often hear that correlation is not causation, so why are world renowned scientists treating the Zika virus as the sole cause of microcephaly in Brazil when there are so many other factors? 

This article was originally published at TheEpochTimes.com and republished with permission. Original posting Here.

Since the virus Zika was blamed for a cluster of cases in northeastern Brazil of the devastating birth defect microcephaly, the mainstream media have been dominated by fear of a Zika pandemic. Meanwhile, the real culprit(s) behind the surge in microcephaly in that corner of Brazil have been ignored, with the exception of a few scientists, and even fewer journalists.

This story started on Feb. 1, 2016, when the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a pandemic emergency with the Zika virus, a much milder cousin of Dengue fever. The WHO blamed Zika alone for the sharp uptick in microcephaly (shrunken heads, resulting in shrunken and undeveloped brains, with a wide range of symptoms and disabilities possible, depending on the severity of the case) in babies born in impoverished areas of northeast Brazil.

Politics and an unscientific approach ensued, with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) joining forces with the WHO. The twin U.S. health care agencies launched a propaganda campaign of fear to justify a money grab from U.S. taxpayers. But for a change, Congress developed a backbone and denied the pleas of President Obama, CDC Director Tom Frieden, and NIHDirector Anthony Fauci, who were seeking $1.9 billion for Zika vaccine R&D.

On June 28, the “Zika Bill” was blocked by Senate Democrats, due to issues over the “provisions of the bill,” but apparently not the lower price tag of $1.1 billion.

Missing CSI Investigation

Whether it’s a failed structure or a broken marriage, it often isn’t one item alone that causes the collapse, but a series of them in a cascade of negative events that does the final damage.

Instead of announcing the Zika pandemic, the three international health agencies should have launched a CSI-type investigation in that quarter of Brazil examining all of the environmental triggers and toxinsthat might be contributing to the surge in microcephaly. But that didn’t happen.

“The increase in microcephaly in that part of the world is unique to Brazil. You don’t see rate increases anywhere else,” Dr. James Lyons-Weiler said in a telephone interview on the likely suspects causing the rise in deformed fetuses and babies.

He explained that the “interactions between two or more of the potential causal factors are rarely ever studied by CDC’s scientists. They are not very good with studying interactions,” which might be the underlying cause of an infectious disease or spread of a virus.

Author and research scientist Lyons-Weiler’s early problem solving skills in recognizing the utility in information in DNA-hybridization led him into deeper research on the evolution of diseases, cancer, and mammals.

In 2015, Dr. Lyons-Weiler launched the Institute for Pure and Applied Knowledge (IPAK), a non-profit organization that since its inception has been challenging half-baked science taken as gospel.

In a co-authored paper that Lyons-Weiler led, his scientific team identified nine likely suspects for the rise in microcephaly. The unpublished paper to date, “Areas of Research and Preliminary Evidence onMicrocephaly, Guillain-Barré Syndrome and Zika Virus Infection in the Western Hemisphere,” outlined the suspects.

They range from “Direct Zika-related microcephaly through unspecified mechanisms” and “molecular mimicry” in two types of vaccines given to pregnant women, to “Glyphosate toxicity in bovine products” leaching into those vaccines, and the unintended outcome of genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes, whose world pilot program was launched in 2012 in that same northeast corner of Brazil by the British concern Oxitec.

“The Zika virus has a protein that matches a human protein within 96 percent. Zika also has an element in its genomic sequence similar to one in other flaviviruses, too, like West Nile to Dengue fever. That means Zika could enter the placenta and blood brain barrier of infants. Yet since there is no increase in acute microcephaly outside of Brazil, if it’s Zika, there may be a missing molecular or chemical co-factor,” Lyons-Weiler explained.

The ability of viruses to produce specific disease symptoms is often known to be modified by co-factors.  “Something is different in Brazil,” said Lyons-Weiler.

Overlooked Glyphosate

On June 1, 2015, Denmark, a farming country, banned the sale and use of Monsanto’s ubiquitous weed killer Roundup, as a result of the Danish Environment Authority declaring glyphosate as a carcinogen. Earlier that year, the WHO classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

The ban and the statement had little effect on removing the sale of glyphosate-containing productsin the United States and South America. And that has bugged MIT Senior Research Scientist Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., who conducts research at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

At this year’s Autism One Conference in Chicago, Dr. Seneff presented a 66-slide deck, “Glyphosate, Folic Acid, Neural Tube Defects and Autism,” highlighting potential associations between chemicals, biology, and children susceptible to autism. In mid-June, Seneff presented at a U.S. Congressional hearing on glyphosate, in Washington, D.C.

In an email, Stephanie Seneff wrote: “It is ridiculous that the only thing the research community seems to be focused on with respect to the microcephaly epidemic in NE Brazil is the Zika virus. While the virus may be a factor in the epidemic, there are many other potential factors that deserve at least equal attention. These include:

(1) “Simultaneous exposure to two herbicides—glufosinate and glyphosate—due to the recent introduction of GMO glufosinate-resistant soybeans on top of the glyphosate-resistant soybeans (glufosinate substitution for glutamine during protein synthesis is a direct path to microcephaly via disruption of asparagine synthase);

(2) “The addition of larvicides directly to the drinking water;

(3) “The introduction of the GM mosquitoes from larvae that were likely fed glyphosate-contaminatedsugar and glyphosate-contaminated blood following maturation;

(4) “The heavy use of ethanol as a fuel in the trucks driving through the region (derived from GM Roundup-ready sugar beets or sugar cane sprayed with Roundup just before harvest), and;

(5) “The recent implementation of policies that encourage vaccination of pregnant women with Tdap, flu vaccine, and possibly MMR vaccine. All of these potential contributors should be thoroughly investigated before concluding that Zika is the entire story with the epidemic.”

What do all of these potential triggers mean? Even if they are not the direct cause of microcephaly, they are contributing to both polluting the land and thus plant, animal, and human life. That should give governments around the world pause.

To date, it has not worked out that way yet.

Where there is big opportunity for billions of dollars in profits, there is Big Industry—Big Pharma, Big Agriculture, Big you name it—led by multinational corporations that seek home run-like profits. There are also big governments that either look the other way or are fine with raking in some of those profits, too.

“The timing is wrong for Zika” said Lyons-Weiler, who pointed to a study showing an increase inmicrocephaly in Brazil two years before Zika made it to Brazil.

“What is clear is the experimentation with whole-cell pertussis vaccination in the slums is ongoing, because the population cannot afford the fee for the clinic, where the safer acellular vaccine is available. The increase in microcephaly began one year after Brazil adopted a mandatory prenatal care program, which includes vaccinations during pregnancy,” he concluded.

Zika is not about science. It’s about money and profit at the expense of the people, domestic and foreign.

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