WHY IS CONGRESS PUTTING AMERICAN HEALTH ON THE LINE WITH THE ZIKA VIRUS?

By Anna Wilding on February 24, 2016

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WASHINGTON, DC (Herald de Paris) —  It appears every year or two that a virus strikes the world in such away that fear and panic is caused among nations. New diseases and old diseases all have the potential to become unstoppable plagues, and it is due to this fact that governments around the world move swiftly to contain and eradicate these virus’.

Recent examples include the Ebola virus, which was first discovered in 1976. Ebola, which was once ridiculed as the “villain” in Bond style movies, broke out in the past 2-3 years and, with its terrible symptoms, gained the attention of the entire world. As of 2016, there have been no recent cases of the Ebola virus in the United States, and for the most part the virus appears to be contained, relatively speaking, with a few isolated cases overseas. Governments however, remain steadfastly vigilant in their attempts to totally eradicate the disease and prevent any outbreaks of any kind. Billions of dollars have been granted to the task worldwide.

However, what happens to the funding when another virus appears soon after, with equal force and veracity.

Another virus has appeared. It is the Zika virus. Zika has run rampant and quickly through South America, and now cases are being confirmed daily in the United States. Over 82 cases, in fact, 21 of which have been in Florida.

On February 23, the Center for Disease Prevention and Control, the CDC, reported a potential 14 new cases of Zika that were transmitted, some without travel to affected zones. The CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat, speaking to NBC News said, “In each of the episodes, a man was traveling to a Zika affected area, developed symptoms that were consistent with Zika, and within two weeks a female partner developed symptoms consistent with the virus.”

The Zika virus was first discovered in the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947. Initially, the symptoms in 1947 were considered mild. However in 2016, 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill with a more moderate dengue type fever. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The incubation period for Zika virus disease is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week.

microcephaly-comparison-500pxTHE REAL PROBLEM WITH THE ZIKA VIRUS
However, the real and potential problem with Zika is that the virus can be spread from mother to unborn baby. This potentially results in serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly. According to the CDC, babies with microcephaly often have smaller brains that may not have developed properly. Though definitively unproven yet, it is strongly suspected that the Zika virus has caused a large spike in babies born with microcephaly in South America and French Polynesia. White House spokesperson Josh Earnest told the Herald de Paris on February 2nd in a White House Briefing, that there is still a lot more that needs to be learned. “There are still questions that are being raised about the precise linkage between the Zika virus and this particular birth defect.”

The Pan American Health Organization reports 26 countries and territories in the America, so far, with confirmed, local Zika transmission. The World Health Organization released as estimate that in the Americas 3-4 million people in the 12 months will contract Zika at its present rate of infection.

Can all this potential damage be caused by one or two garden variety mosquitoes”  Yes.

Debates loom whether Zika is caused by pesticides, genetically engineered mosquitoes, or by the natural and evolutionary order of the world, but regardless, the net results are the same – the Zika virus is here, and is a very real outbreak.

Does it matter where Zika came from?  Or do we spend money and resources on delving into the very deep root cause, or do we just treat the symptoms?  Understanding where Zika came from might help unlock a vaccine, and the White House seems to favor an all round sensible approach that investigates the cause to stop it for happening, and treats the symptoms. Earnest added, “The CDC and others have devoted so many resources to trying to study this disease, to try to interview those individuals that have suffered the worst impacts that we’re most concerned about. And so the more that we learn will inform our ability both to protect the American people here at home, but also to make sure that something like this, if we can prevent it — keep it from happening again.”

111914_cropdust-plane_wide-75c2e1c6c4ad97a3a486303597e8e5e6fab5608d-s900-c85WHAT CAUSED THE RECENT ZIKA OUTBREAK?
There is one simple starting point and common denominator – it all starts and end with one thing, the mosquito. The task of finding the actual cause, to keep this from happening again, is monumental. Delving into the root cause of how the recent Zika outbreak may have started and therefore knowing how to stop and fix it, is a never ending look through the looking glass. On the surface, identifying the cause leads from one rabbit hole to the next and it is going to take a strong focused effort to find that one piece of truth, that science is also prepared to stand behind, for the overall good of humanity, to stop the spread of diseases such as this.

Reports are increasing out of Brazil, Columbia, and Argentina that the cause of the rise in microcpehly may, in fact, be related to the rising of pesticides and herbicides in those regions. Several pesticdes have been name, such as Pyriproxyfen – a larvicide that targets the disease-spreading Aedes aegypti mosquito. The only problem with this is that these reports of links to the Zika virus are as yet unsubstantiated and have not yet been subject to the rigors of scientific testing. In fact, Pyriproxyfen has been used in dog flea collars for years and there have been, as yet, no known published cases of pet dogs transmitting the Zika virus anywhere in the world. Another pesticide,in this case a herbicide, is Glyphosate, commonly known as Round Up, a well known brand used by farmers and gardeners everywhere. Round Up kills weeds without killing their crops, however scientific concerns persist that it leads to cancer and other diseases, and possibly, with large mass spraying, to the rise of microcpehly.

Another story has it, that 500, 000 genetically engineered mosquitoes were released in Juazeiro in Brazil by the pioneering insect control company Oxitec, with the aim of of decimating the population of mosquitoes that carry dengue fever, Zika, yellow fever, maleria and chikungunya. Juzaro is where most of the birth defects are being reported.

Oxitec’s own website, in fact, gives full instructions on how to make genetically modified mosquitoes.

It starts off by explaining that to make a genetically modified mosquito, Oxitec scientists incorporate the new gene into the mosquito’s own DNA, from where it is copied into every cell of the mosquito’s body.

Bill-Gates-vaccineOxitec is funded heavily by grants from the Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation.

In the past two weeks, Bill Gates has painted himself as a savior of the Zika, with all the spin only a politician could muster.  He has been very vocal, coming out in the media about the fact his company is going after the Zika virus as they did with Ebola.

Interesting.  Bill Gates would be the right man for the job, as it appears the Zika virus is at its most heightened in the areas where his funded companies released genetically engineered mosquitoes.

One thing we know about mosquitoes is they do like to travel and they do like to land and suck on humans and spread their diseases. In turn, we know humans like to kiss, and to travel.

According to IFScience Magazine, “Beginning in 2011, a team led by Andrew McKemey of Oxitec conducted a sustained series of OX513A field releases in Itaberaba, a suburb of Juazeiro in the semi-arid northeast region of Brazil. Because piped water services are irregular in this dense suburb, the 1,810 residents depend on stored water – ideal habitats for Aedes aegypti. Throughout the study, local mosquito control was deployed as normal: Public health agents continued to destroy breeding sites and treat homes with larvicide. Just over a year later, the local Aedes aegypti population was reduced by 95% based on adult trap data.” Oxitec CEO Hadyn Parry told IFLScience that, “Sustained release of OX513A males, may therefore be an effective and widely useful method for suppressing the dengue vector and preventing epidemics.”

The only problem is, hasn’t nature, both human and otherwise, taught us that by eradicating and therefore creating a vacuum of one disease, more diseases may step up in this place? And that is what scientists are reporting happened here. Oxitec scientists, in all their wisdom, may not have actually checked first to see what other impact or side effects there may be from releasing 500,000 genetically engineered mosquitoes into the wild.

Therefore, no matter how noble these large companies who are funding this research, may themselves think they are, is it ethically right that these companies go full steam ahead on such large dramatic tests without public knowledge and consensus? Does not the population ask of its government as much transparency as can be afforded, therefore so to, do not large corporate companies have some ethical responsibility to the public before conducting such large tests on unsuspecting populations? Who is accountable here for what potentially could be yet another devastating plague that would seemingly not have been caused without human intervention onto nature of some form or other? Even poor sanitation can or may be a contributing factor in some circumstances. It at least can provide fertile ground , attracting research tests.

It would appear common senses to actually test the side effects and other impacts on mosquito populations, in smaller controlled tests, before embarking on mass endeavors of the kind in Brazil. Mosquitoes are the number 1 cause for spread of disease around the world. Shouldn’t we be given them a little more respect that, they too will come up with defense mechanisms, just has other plant life has to continued spraying. Life is not always simple.

We asked the White House on February 2nd if there would there ever be any accountability in a situation whereby organizations are releasing genetically modified insects without in this case possibly failing to observe or acknowledge what side effects could happen? White House spokesperson Josh Earnest told the Herald de Pairs that, “It is clear there is a lot more that needs to be learned about the science behind this disease.”

WP-ZIKA VIRUS SCARE.CQEarnest noted the President has spoken with President Rousseff of Brazil, “About how we could coordinate our efforts to fight this disease.  And so we’re certainly going to stay in touch with them moving forward.”

On February 22nd, the CDC reported they are potentially reporting 14 news cases in the USA that were sexually transmitted without travel to effected zones. The CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat said only two cases are confirmed, but all of the suspected cases involved men who had traveled potentially infecting women who had not.

There is no question the Zika virus is spreading. It almost appears that is one of those instances where the government seems to become the righteous independent player to the corporations that control scientific testing and possibly the since behind the Zika outbreak .

So exactly where is the funding to protect the American public at home and abroad from disease? President Obama for his part, acted swiftly to announce a plan to request $1.8 billion in funding on February 8th, stating that, “The Federal Government has been monitoring the Zikavirus and working with our domestic and international public health partners to alert healthcare providers and the public about Zika; provide public health laboratories with diagnostic tests; and detect and report cases both domestically and internationally.”

Asking Congress to act and approve the fudning, the White House said, “There is much that we do not yet know about Zika and its relationship to the poor health outcomes that are being reported in Zika-affected areas. We must work aggressively to investigate these outbreaks, and mitigate, to the best extent possible, the spread of the virus. Congressional action on the Administration’s request will accelerate our ability to prevent, detect and respond to the Zika virus and bolster our ability to reduce the potential for future infectious disease outbreaks.” The proposal put forth by the Obama administration was comprehensive and included:

Enhance mosquito control programs through enhanced laboratory, epidemiology and surveillance capacity in at-risk areas to reduce the opportunities for Zika transmission;

Enhance mosquito control programs through enhanced laboratory, epidemiology and surveillance capacity in at-risk areas to reduce the opportunities for Zika transmission;

Implement surveillance efforts to track Zika virus in communities and in mosquitoes;

Deploy targeted prevention and education strategies with key populations, including pregnant women, their partners, and health care professionals;

Expand the CDC Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, improve Guillain Barré syndrome tracking, and ensure the ability of birth defect registries across the country to detect risks related to Zika;

Increase research into the link between Zika virus infections and the birth defect microcephaly and measure changes in incidence rates over time;

Enhance international capacity for virus surveillance, expand the Field Epidemiology Training program, laboratory testing, health care provider training, and vector surveillance and control in countries at highest risk of Zikavirus outbreaks; and

Improve diagnostics for Zika virus, including advanced methods to refine tests, and support advanced developments for vector control.

However, the request, was struck down by Congress.

Jordan Fabian of The Hill raised with Josh Earnest in a White House briefing that, “The chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Hal Rogers, wrote a letter to the White House turning down the request for emergency funding, saying that the Congress should use funding for Ebola to fight and redirect that toward fighting Zika.”

However, Josh Earnest told Mr Fabian that, “The work the United States has done to fight Ebola and to protect the American people from Ebola is not done. So it’s critically important that we follow through on those efforts, and it would be profoundly unwise to take money away from the ongoing effort that’s needed to fight Ebola.”

Mr, Earnest did point out that a small portion of Ebola funds could be re-purposed and that would form a very small part of the request but that, “Those resources would not be sufficient to take on what we believe is a pretty serious threat from the Zika virus.” Mr. Earnest went on to add that, “We want to make sure that we’re prepared, and we’re hopeful that when we put forward a proposal, a specific proposal that’s coming soon, that the Senate and the House will be prepared to act on it quickly.  There’s no reason that something like keeping the American people safe from the Zika virus should be some sort of partisan fight.” Mr. Earnest optimistically said, “I think Democrats and Republicans in Congress are interested in making sure that pregnant women and unborn children in this country can be properly protected.”

To that end, on 22nd February President Obama wrote a polite and pointed letter to Congress requesting that they release $1.9 billion of funding “to respond to the Zika virus both domestically and internationally.” The letter went on to add that in particular the funding would, “Provide additional Federal Medicaid funding in Puerto Rico and the other U.S. Territories for health services for pregnant women at risk of infection or diagnosed with Zika virus, and for children with microcephaly, and for other health care costs; and enhance the ability of Zika-affected countries to better combat mosquitoes, control transmission, and support affected populations.”

According to CDC there were 50 laboratory-confirmed cases of the Zika virus among U.S. travelers from December 2015 – February 5, 2016. On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.  Even His Holiness Pope Francis has stepped up and issued a statement that in light of the recent proliferation of the Zika virus, the use of contraception is condoned.

The President also stated in his letter to Congress that his, “Foremost priority is to protect the health and safety of Americans. This request supports the necessary steps to fortify our domestic health system, detect and respond to any potential Zika outbreaks at home, and to limit the spread in other countries.”

The White House requested the funding to be designated as an emergency requirement. pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, as amended.

Knowledge of the link between Zika and birth defects is evolving, but until more is known. CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women. Prevention of mosquito bites is the primary means of preventing Zika virus infection in persons of all ages traveling to or residing in areas with local Zika virus transmission.

On a recent visit to the Caribbean, it was clear that tourist resorts are taking the matter of Zika seriously and are spraying in hot spot areas early in the morning to help ward off mosquito bites. A staff member at the Ocean Club in Nassau, Paradise Island said, “We are aware and we now spray every morning to stop the mosquitoes coming.”

Symptoms are mild however if pregnant and travelling to effected areas please visit the cdc.gov website.



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