A baby with Microcephaly. Photo: Reuters

A baby with Microcephaly. Photo: Reuters

In view of the hysteria which in recent months raged in the world entailing the Zika-Microcephaly question, and the serious consequences of this hysteria within a number of countries in Latin-America and the Caribbean, it is most timely now to take a close look at this significant matter.

The scientific magazine ‘Nature’ mentions in its edition of 28 January 2016 (1) the announcement of the Brazilian Ministry of Health in October 2015 about a big increase in reported cases of microcephaly in the north-eastern state of Pernambuco at about the same period in which there was a break out of Zika sicknesses in that region, taking into account the period of pregnancy of mothers. PAHO says in their publication of 17 January 2016 that 3,530 cases were reported in 2015 in 20 states, while between 2010 and 2014, the average amount was 163 per year. (2) Based on their suspicion that there may be a link between both events, the ministry raised the alarm. Thereafter, WHO/PAHO called on member states to look for a similar increasing trend in the occurrence of microcephaly within their countries.

Nature then discusses the conclusions of the ‘Latin American Collaborative Study of Congenital Malformations’ (ECLAMC) which had researched this question. (3) They reviewed the microcephaly data in ECLAMC from 1967 to 2015 and the Live Birth Information System (SINASC) from 2013 to 2015. Earlier, on 28 November 2016, the ministry had formulated a document with 11 observations on which they had based their suspicion. In ECLAMC’s report of 30 December 2016 these 11 observations are commented.

Here’s a paraphrase of some of ECLAMC’s findings:
• The following trends have to be considered:
– The number of normal microcephaly cases in the period before the Zika epidemic may be low on account of under-reporting. Reporting all cases during the epidemic may result in a seeming increase of these cases.
– Not using the same standard criteria in identifying the cases of microcephaly could result in a seeming increase of reported cases because of over-diagnosis.
– The prevalence of microcephaly was always higher in the north-eastern region than in the rest of Brazil.
• If the Zika virus would have caused the increase of microcephaly cases, then all pregnant women above the normal number of these cases, would have been infected by the virus.
• In addition, it should be ascertained that no other causes have been in play before presuming that the Zika virus has caused the increase in the cases of microcephaly.

Dr. Sandra da Silva Mattos, a paedriatic specialist and cardiologist, and her team investigated a database spanning several years of more than 100,000 neonates in the State of Paraiba, bordering Pernambuco. These records showed that in the period 2012-2015 the head circumference of 16,208 babies had been measured, and based on these findings the pattern of microcephaly has been established in these four years. Mattos published the results in the WHO Bulletin on 29 January 2016, (4) and in a short interview, (5) she gives an explanation. They discovered that the big increase in cases of microcephaly had already occurred in the period 2012 and later, years before the Zika virus presumably entered Brazil in mid-2014.

According to official statistics there should be 3-4 cases of microcephaly per year. However, in actual practice it turned out to be 2-8% of the number of babies born, which corresponds with 2000-4000 cases of microcephaly per year in Paraiba. Remarkably, the biggest peak in this 4-year period occurred in mid 2014! The number of the most serious cases did increase in the second half of 2015.

Preliminary results of a research which is being done by the ministry underscored some of the comments of ECLAMC in this question. The medical-scientific magazine ‘The Lancet’ reveals in its edition of 5 February 2016 the status of this research on 30 January (6). It is as follows: Between mid-2015 and 30 January 2016, 4783 suspected cases of microcephaly were reported. Of these, 1103 cases have been examined [HM: this should be 1113], and 404 were confirmed cases of microcephaly, including 387 babies with brain abnormalities, and the Zika virus was detected in 17 babies. The remaining 709 cases were discarded and 3670 suspected cases of microcephaly remain under investigation. In other words, to this stage of research only 4.2-4.4% of the confirmed cases of microcephaly in Brazil could have been caused by the Zika virus. And further, in all other countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, no link between Zika and microcephay had been reported at that time.

The Lancet discusses in their comment the findings of ECLAMC. They do discuss at length the big difference between the numbers of reported and confirmed cases of microcephaly, but they remain mum about the very small percentage of Zika-related cases. In fact, one should explicitly add, there is dead silence! And indeed, one doesn’t need to have had a scientific or medical education – for just plain common sense and a critical mind is enough – to grasp that the Zika-microcephaly-hype and anxiety psychosis that goes with it, especially within Latin-America and the Caribbean, had to be curtailed immediately. From the very beginning, governments and health institutes should have restrained themselves from making far-reaching pronouncements and taking drastic measures simply on the basis of suspicion. By virtue of their responsibility, they at all times should have conducted a closer scientific investigation, while maintaining composure, and then should have acted based on facts. And while the investigation and preventive measures regarding the Zika epidemic proceeds in a state of calmness, a large-scale investigation should be contiguously conducted with earnest energy and vigor to identify what has caused the other 95,6-95,8% cases of microcephaly, and subsequent thereto, the necessary drastic measures had to be taken against those causes!

In point of fact, however, an inventory years ago into this issue would have revealed the biggest cause as: Pesticides! There is abundant evidence of this in a range of studies. For the record, to list four examples, consider the following:
– ‘Correlation Between Pesticide Use in Agriculture and Adverse Birth Outcomes in Brazil: An Ecological Study’ / 15 May 2010 (7)
– ‘Impact on fetal growth of prenatal exposure to pesticides due to agricultural activities: a prospective cohort study in Brittany, France’ / 15 November 2010 (8)
– ‘Agrichemicals in surface water and birth defects in the United States’ / April 2009 (9) In possible correlation with (?): ‘Evaluation of the child with microcephaly (an evidence-based review)’ / 15 September 2009. (10) In this review the NCBI states that it is estimated that every year 25,000 children in the USA will be diagnosed with microcephaly!
– ‘GM Soy. Sustainable? Responsible?’ / September 2010. See paragraph: “Study confirms glyphosate’s link with birth defects” (Andres Carrasco) (11) See Andres Carrasco’s report: ‘Glyphosate-Based Herbicides Produce Teratogenic Effects on Vertebrates by Impairing Retinoic Acid Signaling’ / 20 May 2010. (12)

Just recently, toward the end of April 2015, the Brazilian Association for Collective Health (ABRASCO) published a 628 page report entitled, ‘An Alert of the Impacts of Pesticides on Health’. This exposé states that Brazil is the largest consumer of agro-chemicals in the world. In 2012, they had bought 823,000 tons of pesticides. The Brazilian Agro-Ecological Association (ABA) reveals that even banned pesticides have been imported into Brazil. Of the 50 main components in the pesticides, which are used in Brazil, 22 are forbidden in most other countries. See ‘The Rio Times’ of 15 May 2015. (13)

Brazil’s use of pesticides is so excessive that over a period of 40 years they had even put chemical poisons into drinking-water tanks to kill mosquito larvae; the last time this was done they used a larvicide containing pyroproxyfen over a period of 18 months. This poison eliminates mosquitoes by causing malformations during their growth. Brazilian physicians of ABRASCO and Argentine physicians of Physicians in Crop-Sprayed Towns (PCST) state in a common report of 3 February (14) that this poison in particular has caused microcephaly, demanding that in regard to this urgent matter epidemiological studies should be conducted. In addition to this, the findings of Sandra da Silva Mattos fit perfectly within the view that pesticides are the main cause of the recorded physical malformations and neurological diseases of babies. The WHO, however, pointed at the Zika-virus and said: “Look here, not there.”

The WHO may have suspicions regarding specific issues, but they ought to restrict those suspicions to the world of thoughts, especially suspicions which are fed by individual desires and special interests. Focusing on the common good of the peoples of the world, they should base their statements and actions on available facts; indeed, they are obliged to do that. However, to everybody’s bewilderment – those who are conscious of that – the WHO proclaimed on 1 February 2016 a ‘state of emergency’ concerning the Zika-Microcephaly question, and on the contrary this caravan speeded up their pace! In their ‘Declaration of Public Health Emergency of International Concern’ (15) they stated: “The experts agreed that a causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly is strongly suspected, though not yet scientifically proven.” “After a review of the evidence, the Committee advised that the recent cluster of microcephaly cases and other neurological disorders reported in Brazil, following a similar cluster in French Polynesia in 2014, constitutes an ‘extraordinary event’ and a public health threat to other parts of the world.”

The question to be asked openly is: How could they actually see the mouse in the house and miss the elephant that was staring them in their faces? People with common sense and critical minds knit their brows and sense deceit. What is really at play here? Are they wearing blinkers … or are the blinkers meant for us? It is self-evident, for they do not want us to see that their reasoning is nothing less than a ‘logical fallacy’. When someone adopts a position, and/or tries to persuade someone else to adopt a (that) position, based on a bad (fraudulent) piece of reasoning, they commit a logical fallacy. (16) A logical fallacy of presumption contains an argument based on a false dilemma or a circular argument. Arguments with false dilemmas assume that there are no other options to consider. Circular arguments assume precisely the thing that they seek to prove.

The WHO has pointed to the Zika virus as the supposed cause of microcephaly, to the exclusion of all other possible causes. The WHO has pointed to the Zika virus as the supposed cause of microcephaly, awaiting the scientific evidence of this assumption. Consequently, the WHO has committed a logical fallacy, squared exponentially. To compound matters even further:
– They proclaimed the state of emergency while in only a small percentage of confirmed cases of microcephaly the Zika virus has been found.
– The proclamation of the state of emergency, along with all measures that go with this act, has caused serious consequences for people and countries within the regions hit by the Zika epidemic.
– They diverted the focus of attention from the main cause(s) of microcephaly and other physical malformations and neurological diseases that should have been addressed with drastic measures. This has serious consequences for Brazil and the peoples worldwide.

Are we letting them go away with this?

(To be continued in part 2)

Sources:

(1) http://www.nature.com/news/zika-virus-brazil-s-surge-in-small-headed-babies-questioned-by-report-1.19259
(2) http://www.paho.org/hq/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_view&Itemid=270&gid=32879&lang=en
(3) http://www.nature.com/polopoly_fs/7.33594!/file/NS-724-2015_ECLAMC-ZIKA%20VIRUS_V-FINAL_012516.pdf
(4) http://www.who.int/bulletin/online_first/16-170639.pdf?ua=1%3E
(5) http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-08/is-zika-really-causing-brazil’s-microcephaly-cases/7147746
(6) http://www.thelancet.com/pb/assets/raw/Lancet/pdfs/S0140673616002737.pdf
(7) http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00128-010-0027-8
(8) http://ehjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1476-069X-9-71
(9) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2667895/?tool=pubmed
(10) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19752457
(11) http://www.gmwatch.eu/images/pdf/gm_full_eng_v15.pdf
(12) http://www.gmwatch.eu/images/pdf/Carrasco_research_paper.pdf
(13) http://riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/rio-politics/brazil-is-largest-global-consumer-of-pesticides-shows-report
(14) http://www.reduas.com.ar/report-from-physicians-in-the-crop-sprayed-town-regarding-dengue-zika-microcephaly-and-massive-spraying-with-chemical-poisons
(15) http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2016/emergency-committee-zika-microcephaly/en
(16) http://www.logicalfallacies.info