A Sheer Coincidence? Deliberately Released:

Wolbachia-Infected Mosquitoes + Red-Whiskered Bulbuls

Red-Whiskered Bulbul, Wolbachia-Infected Mosquitoes, and Culex as Zika Vectors
Credit: World Map by Christopher Schnese on flickr (CC-by-2.0); Bulbul by myjkccd (Own work) [Public domain] - image flipped for native regions. Concept, text, colors, Culex mosquitoes by RoseWrites.

Investigative Journalists: How About Asking the Experts?

Bill Gates is being asked about the next pandemic (even though he doesn't even have a degree in biology). And it seems the CBC is entirely avoiding the Zika topic. 

The press should be all over Drs. Constância F. J. Ayres, Walter S. Leal, Fiona Hunter, Michael Diamond, Amir Attaran, Peter Hotez, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (to name just a few).

The latest unpublicized study (hidden behind paywalls): Infection: A new threat on the horizon — Zika virus and male fertility by Andreas Meinhardt.

When I conducted a PubMed search of it, the abstract was blank.[1]

The same thing happened when I looked up the Arbovirus Survey in Wild Birds in Uganda by Okia, N.O. et al. The abstract has been entirely removed from the PubMed listing.

Numerous government health departments are also posting false information.

As mentioned in my article Birds as Reservoir Hosts of Zika: What You Are Not Being Told, below are just two screenshot examples (if you look, you will find more).

False Information in New Hampshire and Illinois Department of Public Health FAQs
Credit: Screenshots by RoseWrites [Fair Use]

Fortunately, Scientists are Aware of the Facts

Why the Press Needs to Beat a Path to Dr. Hunter's Lab:

Dr. Fiona Hunter, medical and veterinary entomologist at Brock UniversityCredit: Screenshot of Brock University YouTube video "Dr. Fiona Hunter on Zika Virus" [Fair Use]Dr. Hunter works in the only level 3 containment lab with an insectary outside of the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg. Her credentials are vast and include:[2]

-A BSc in zoology from the University of Toronto
-An MSc in botany where she worked on black fly cytotaxonomy and systematics under the late Dr. Klaus Rothfels.
-Training at the Tropical Medicine Institute at the University of Tübingen in Germany where she studied parasitology and studied the role of black flies in the transmission of onchocerciasis (aka river blindness).
-A PhD in biology at Queen’s University under the co-supervision of Dr. Jim Sutcliffe, a black fly physiologist, and the late Dr. A. E. R. Downe, a mosquito physiologist. 

Clearly, Dr. Fiona Hunter would understand the role that Wolbachia plays in disease transmission. In fact, Wolbachia is responsible for the most widespread pandemics in the animal kingdom (LePage and Bordenstein, 2013).

January 23rd, 2017, An Email From a World-Class Scientist

I was amazed. On January 23rd, 2017, I received the following email from Dr. Fiona Hunter, medical and veterinary entomologist at Brock University. 

Email From Dr. Fiona Hunter to Me With Okia Study (Birds had ZIKV)
Credit: Screenshot by RoseWrites of email from Dr. Fiona Hunter (who sent me study proving birds had ZIKV)

After I Read the Study, I Forwarded it to Cornell

As I researched this further, I became even more incensed by what our public health authorities (even the CDC) have been informing the public.

I wrote back to Dr. Hunter and the following scientists[8] at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Christopher Clark, senior scientist; André Dhondt, Director, Bird Population Studies; Daniel Fink, Sr Research Associate, Avian Knowledge Network; Aaron Rice, Science Director; Viviana Ruiz-Gutierrez, Quantitative Ecologist, and Daniel Salisbury, Research Analyst. 

Here is precisely what I wrote:

Dear Dr. Hunter, 

Wow, thank you. I really appreciate you sending me this. I am going to send it along to the Cornell Lab scientists as well.
 
On that front, Charles Feeney recently made a $7 million grant to Cornell University. I am hoping part of that helps fund whatever they might need to investigate ZIKV in birds.
 
I have not heard anything new from Cornell scientists, but a few experts in the birding community felt "it is possible" that Zika is causing problems in birds.
 
I will let you know when I hear anything back.
 
After reading the Okai 1971 study, I thought:
 
How good were the diagnostics back then? Notably, it states:
  • "A good number of these sera were weakly positive and thus were not included in our study."
  • "Experimental infection of birds has revealed birds to be poor neutralizing antibody producers." Ergo, it is possible to miss many positive sera with a titre lower than 1/10.
  • "The incidence of WN antibodies should be highest among dark-capped bulbuls. These birds occur near households and in all vegetation types, except inside thick forests."
 
Phylogenetic Tree and Clade of ZIKVCredit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrelAnd even though the CDC and WHO like to lump Zika in with dengue and yellow fever, clearly, Zika is more related to West Nile virus.
 
With Zika, the CDC does not even mention birds. 
 
Yet, the CDC states "one study done in Indonesia in the late 1970s that horses, cows, carabaos (water buffaloes), goats, ducks, and bats could become infected with Zika, but there is no evidence that they develop disease or pose a risk for Zika virus transmission to humans." Source: https://www.cdc.gov/zika/transmission/qa-animals.html
 
CDC also states:
 
1) Animals do not appear to be involved in the spread of Zika virus.
2) There have not been any reports of pets or other types of animals becoming sick with Zika virus.
 
Other studies and the WHO made brief mention of Zika being found in "forest-dwelling" birds. Most readers would interpret that to mean birds that are far away from humans.
 
From Okai et al: 
 
"An outbreak of Zika virus occurred among forest-dwelling vertebrates. In 1969, many Zika positive sera were obtained from monkeys in Bwamba forest." 
 
Oddly, the CDC feels animals "do not appear to be involved".
 
It is surprising Zika postive sera "was low" where the epidemic occurred.
 
Little Greenbul Pycnonotidae - Andropadus virensCredit: Ettore Balocchi on flickr (CC-by-2.0)Highest numbers of Zika antibodies were found in the little greenbul (Eurillas virens), shown at right. This is a songbird in the family Pycnonotidae, a passerine songbird.
 
And "passerine" and "Passeriformes" are derived from Passer domesticus, the scientific name of the eponymous species (the house sparrow). I highlight this fact since it's another indication that a forest bird (far away from humans) is not accurate.
 
The little greenbul Eurillas virens is a small bird. Here is its African distribution (shown below, at right).
 
Little Greenbul Range in AfricaCredit: Haller1962 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsNote: They are only prevalent in Western Uganda and a stretch in the south of Uganda near Lake Victoria.
 
Little greenbul habitat is listed as: coast, forest, savanna, subtropical, terrestrial biome, terrestrial habitat, and tropical.[12]
 
Habitat includes: mangroves (a tree or shrub that grows in chiefly tropical coastal swamps that are flooded at high tide), Montane Grasslands and Shrublands, Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands, Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests.[12] 
 
And in Chapter 3: Fifty Fascinating North American Birds (p. 145) of The Everything Bird Book by Tershia d'Elgin, I discovered this (see screenshot):
  • Bulbuls are highly adaptable birds and have established themselves closer to humans ...
  • Red-Whiskered Bulbuls tame easily and are a popular pet
Yet CDC doesn't feel pets can "become sick with Zika" (but pets certainly COULD be reservoir hosts, I'm thinking).
 
I know this seems a bit too coincidental, but:
  • In 1960, these Red-Whiskered Bulbuls established themselves in the Miami area (after escaping a Dade County Florida bird farm).
  • Florida's Red-Whiskered Bulbuls love figs and the fruit of the Brazilian pepper tree.
The Bulbul Family and Red-Whiskered BulbulCredit: Screenshot of Book Chapter 3: Fifty Fascinating North American Birds (p. 145) of The Everything Bird Book by Tershia d'Elgin

The Everything Bird Book by Tershia d'Elgin is available for purchase at the end of my article.

And about the Brazilian pepper tree . . 

  • "The Brazilian pepper tree is an ornamental shrub or tree native to Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay that was introduced into Florida in the mid-1800s."[13]
  • "Its seeds are easily spread through birds and other animals that ingest the berries. Controlling invasive plants like Brazilian peppers can cost billions of dollars and are difficult to completely eradicate."[11][13]
 
I hope you don't mind me sharing my thoughts with you and Cornell scientists. I sincerely want to help in any way I can.
 
It is painfully obvious that the CDC, WHO, and Health Canada are ignoring glaring scientific facts.
 

Brazilian Pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius)

Florida Used to Encourage Planting It as an Ornamental

Brazilian Pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius)
Credit: ajmexico on flickr (CC-by-2.0)

Bulbuls Originated in the Forests of Africa and Asia

One Interloper in North America: Red-Whiskered Bulbul

Two Red-Whiskered Bulbuls (Pycnonotus jocosus)
Credit: Rose Thumboor (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

After I Wrote That Letter, I Researched More

I wondered if Red-Whiskered Bulbuls are found elsewhere in the world. Here is what I discovered:

  • Red-whiskered Bulbul lives in Tropical Asia from Pakistan and India, to southwest Asia and China. It has been introduced in Australia (New South Wales), Los Angeles, Mauritius and Florida.[3]
  • The Red-whiskered Bulbul has established itself in Australia, Los Angeles, Hawaii, and Florida in the U.S. and in the Mauritius, Assumption Island and Mascarene Islands.[4]
  • It was eradicated from Assumption Island in 2013 – 2015 to prevent colonisation of nearby Aldabra, the largest introduced bird-free tropical island.[4]
  • It is now also found in suburban Melbourne and Adelaide, although it is unclear how they got there.[4]
  • Red-whiskered Bulbul lives in open areas with bushes and scrubs, and second grows. It lives in thickets, near cultivated areas and gardens, and in big towns.[3] Again, this is confirmation that "forest-dwelling" birds is misleading.

Interestingly enough, I found a 2015 post titled Red-whiskered bulbul: Canberrans asked to be on the lookout for a feral bird species[5] which stated:

  • The feral red-whiskered bulbul poses a serious threat to Australia's native plants and wildlife.
  • The bulbul is considered an environmental pest as it competes with local native birds for food and nesting sites. It also contributes to the spread of many invasive weeds, including blackberry, lantana, and privet.

"In the ACT [Australian Capital Territory] it is illegal to keep or supply prohibited and notifiable pest species unless a special licence has been issued. Keeping or supplying a prohibited pest species can carry a fine of up to $7,500 for an individual or $37,000 for a corporation." ~ Daniel Iglesias, ACT Parks and Conservation Service director[5]

Not Only a Pest, But a ZIKV Reservoir Host?

Apparently, the Red-Whiskered Bulbul Can Carry Malaria

And just when I thought: what bad luck southeast Asia, Australia, and Florida has for being a home to this bird, I discovered something shocking:

There were "recorded individuals of this species in Rio de Janeiro city in 2006".

According to the 2013 study Non-native bird species in Brazil by Priscila M. Fontoura, Ellie Dyer, Tim M. Blackburn, Mário L. Orsi:[6]

  • Serpa (2008) recorded individuals of this species in Rio de Janeiro city in 2006, with sightings of individuals in the wild since 1992 and 1994. These possibly originated as escapes from a pet shop.
  • Serpa also identified a nest of the species in 2006, showing that it was reproducing outside captivity and suggesting that it may be establishing in the area (Mallet-Rodrigues et al., 2008).

More confirmation that this bird is implicated in human disease: many bird species, from raptors to passerines like the red-whiskered bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus), can carry malaria.[7]

Red-Whiskered Bulbul Chicks (Pycnonotus jocosus)

Introduced to Hawai'i (Oahu; not known on other islands)

Pycnonotus jocosus Red-whiskered bulbul Pycnonotidae Young in Nest
Credit: David Eickhoff on flickr (CC-by-2.0)

Why Birds are Critical to the Spread of Zika

Drs. Ayres and Hunter made it clear how Zika is more related to the viruses spread by the Culex genus of mosquitoes (like West Nile virus). Yet, early on, the press was presented with numerous free images of the Aedes mosquito (and studies) which created a huge societal bias.

Every time I read about Zika, there's an image of an Aedes mosquito plunked in the post. Meanwhile, it is entirely plausible that the larger, hardier, Culex is causing 20 - 45 percent of the Zika cases we hear about.

I believe Culex could be the mosquito responsible for the most devastating Zika infections, since Zika could be enhanced by Wolbachia in Culex (as it has been with both West Nile virus and malaria). And, Zika is found in bulbuls.

Culex prefer to feed on birds.[9] Birds can act as reservoir hosts that amplify diseases.

A West Nile Virus FAQ from the AAM (American Academy of Microbiology) written by Shannon E. Greene and Ann Reid reminds us:

  • "The most critical hosts in the WNV [West Nile virus] lifecycle, other than mosquitoes, are certain species of birds. Some species of birds are called amplifying hosts, meaning that when they get infected by a WNV-carrying mosquito, the virus is able to replicate to such high numbers in the blood that a new mosquito coming along for a snack will be able to pick up the virus as well."
  • Birds can experience a range of symptoms, from species that show no symptoms to those (like crows) that die from it. Incredibly, birds can have up to a billion times more viral particles in their blood than similarly infected humans. 
  • Keep in mind: birds maintain these high blood virus levels for 1 - 5 days, during which time a single "super amplifier" bird can infect 100s of mosquitoes.
Author's note: The downloaded report I've quoted states, "Contents of the report may be distributed further so long as the authorship of the AAM is acknowledged and this disclaimer is included. Written by Shannon E. Greene and Ann Reid of the American Academy of Microbiology."
 
Below is an image that was included in this AAM report by Shannon E. Green and Ann Reid. 

Birds Might Amplify the Zika Virus a Billion Times

Culex Will Bite Zika-Infected Birds and Then Bite Humans

How WNV is Amplified in a Bird
Credit: Image via West Nile Virus FAQ by Shannon E. Greene and Ann Reid of the American Academy of Microbiology

The Red-Whiskered Bulbul is Sometimes a Pet

Taught to Sit on the Hand; Often Seen in Indian Bazaars

Red-Whiskered Bulbul
Credit: myjkccd (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Native and Introduced Red-Whiskered Bulbuls

We Need to Be Testing These Birds For ZIKV Now

My intro image was created based on one I found at Planet of Birds. Notably, under the heading "Migration" it states:

  • Southeast Asia. Established locally in southern Miami, Florida. Migration: Apparently permanent resident throughout its native range, and introduced populations seem to do very little wandering.[10]

I can't help but shake the feeling there are far too many coincidences and too many public health authorities downplaying (or outright lying) about established scientific facts.

Zika in Culex and in birds should be a top research priority right now.

Addendum: January 29th, 2017

Other Kinds of Bulbuls Should Be Investigated

Without getting too wordy, I felt it was important to mention that there are about 40 species of bulbuls.[16] And after I viewed the distribution of the Alophoixus genus,[17] I wanted to stress that these birds should definitely be considered likely reservoir hosts of ZIKV.

Up next is a map I found on Wikipedia of the "Alophoixus distribution map, only recognized species (without Thapsinillas affinis)".

Range of About 10 Bulbuls (Alophoixus)

NOTE: All of the Species Occur in Southeast Asia

Alophoixus distribution map, only recognized species (without Thapsinillas affinis)
Credit: By Haller1962 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Other Bulbuls (Besides Little Greenbul) With ZIKV: Dark-Capped Bulbul (Pycnonotus tricolor) & White-Throated Greenbul (Phyllastrephus albigularis)

Pycnonotus tricolor and Phyllastrephus albigularis
Credit: Dark-capped bulbul by Rotational | White-throated Greenbul by John Gerrard Keulemans [Both Images Public domain] Screenshot of Okia et al. Table 1 [Fair Use]

There Are Over 40 Species of Greenbuls

In the Bulbul Family Pycnonotidae, Found Only in Africa

Range of Little Greenbul and WHO's History of the Zika Virus
Credit: Eurillas virens distribution by Haller1962 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons; Yellow-bellied Greenbul by Hannah Rooke via wagon16 on flickr [Public Domain]; WHO Zika History [Fair Use]

Listen to Dr. Fiona Hunter on the Zika Virus

Published by Brock University June 3rd, 2016

The Everything Bird Book by Tershia D'Elgin

The Everything Bird Book by Tershia D'Elgin RoseWrites 2017-01-27 4.5 0 5
4.5/5

The Everything Bird Book by Tershia D'Elgin

From identification to bird care, everything you need to know about our feathered friends

The Everything Bird Book; From identification to bird care, everything you need to know about our feathered friends.
Amazon Price: $30.00 Buy Now
(price as of Feb 17, 2017)
Tershia D'Elgin seamlessly combines bird history with facts in a can't-put-down book that is also illustrated beautifully by her.

How We Can Stop the Spread of the Zika Virus

Let your local health department and area politicians know that Culex are proven vectors in some regions of the world. And it is imperative to be looking for the Zika virus in birds. Share this article. Ask questions.

As Drs. Ayres and Hunter have stressed:

If you look at the support for the phylogenetic placement of ZIKV, there is 99 percent support for it within the clade includes West Nile and Saint Louis encephalitis viruses.
 
That fact alone is reason enough to be looking for the Zika virus in birds, if you ask me.
 
I created a collection on Zazzle with 100 products (so far) that educate and promote the prevention of the spread of Zika. Every item purchased will help fund Zika research. You can even customize most of the products.[14]

I also have a devoted Facebook page called Zika: Let's Stop a Global Pandemic where you can keep up-to-date on the latest findings from the scientific community (not mainstream media).[15]

Author's note: All of my citations have a clickable link to their source. The list is found in the bibliography at the end of this page.

Rose is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

 
 

More Must-Read Articles About the Zika Virus

 

Why We Need to Investigate Wolbachia-Infected Mosquito Releases

Zika Virus: Our Tainted Blood Supply

Safe Mosquito Eradication That Works: Using Coffee, Bti, Rubbing Alcohol, and a Cat