WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan

Blamed Mosquito Control Efforts in Southeast Asia

World Map Showing Wolbachia-Infected Mosquito Release Sites, Zika Outbreaks, and Where Culex are a Zika Vector
Credit: World Map by Christopher Schnese on flickr (CC-by-2.0) Colors and Text by RoseWrites November 24th, 2016

WHO Ignored Culex

Now Blames Countries

I was disgusted by what Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) said in her address at a recent Western Pacific regional meeting.

Since February 2016, the WHO has been alerted by numerous scientists that Culex are also likely vectors of the Zika virus.

But it took until the fall of 2016 for the WHO to acknowledge this on their site under a tab that must be clicked on to be read.

In her speech on October 10th, 2016 in Manila, Philippines, Dr. Chan included these questions and a statement:

"Why did the first signal that the virus is present in some of your countries come from travellers whose Zika infection was confirmed once they got home? Are they sentinels?

Is this weak surveillance, an indication of population-wide immunity, or proof that the virus has somehow acquired greater epidemic potential? 

I wish we knew."[1]

Based on the responses I received from Dr. Aileen M. Marty, a member of  WHO's Advisory Group on Mass Gatherings, Risk Assessments, Command & Control, EID (Emerging Infectious Diseases), I'd say the WHO does know.

Why are Zika and WNV

Similarities Being Dismissed?

NBC's News 5 Report by Alice Barr With Dr. Robert Haley Talking About Zika Virus and West Nile Virus
Credit: Screenshot of Dr. Robert Haley, Chief of Epidemiology at UT Southwestern to NBC News 5 [Fair Use]

Dr. Robert Haley, Chief of Epidemiology at UT Southwestern, told Alice Barr of NBC 5:

"West Nile and Zika are entirely different."

"It is possible that a mosquito could bite a person who just came back from El Salvador or Mexico or somewhere and transmit to somebody, that's possible. It's just it's so unlikely that it's just not happening."

And he added:

"People with similar reasons for travel tend to live in similar areas."[2]

What We Know About West Nile Virus

Probably Applies to the Zika Virus

West Nile virus (WNV) was discovered in the U.S. in 1999 and has been detected in over 300 species of dead birds. Although some infected birds, especially crows and jays, frequently die of infection, most birds survive.[3]

West Nile virus "is maintained in nature in a mosquito-bird-mosquito transmission cycle."[4] 

And Culex mosquitoes (especially Culex pipiens) are the main vectors of WNV. The virus is passed along through mosquito eggs (vertical transmission). Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Keep in mind, birds can be infected numerous ways (other than mosquitoes). 

Culex are Vectors of the Zika Virus

So Why Hasn't the WHO Warned Countries?

 
I am beside myself wondering why the WHO's off-the-cuff mention that Culex is also a Zika vector is hidden under two tabs on their webpage titled Zika virus and complications: Questions and answers.[5]
 
Addendum November 25th, 2016: The WHO removed their prior mention of Culex as vectors of the Zika virus (even though supporting evidence has been submitted by three independent research teams in Brazil, China, and Canada).
 
Public health departments all over the world need this information in order to enact the most effective vector control strategies. Culex and Aedes mosquitoes require entirely different eradication methods
 

Zika's Phylogenetic Relationship is Supported

a Whopping 99 Percent With WNV and SLEV

Dr. Fiona Hunter During Her Presentation at the Zika Symposium 2016
Credit: Screenshot of Dr. Fiona Hunter Explaining the Phylogenetic Placement of ZIKV [Fair Use]

To Hear Dr. Fiona Hunter's Entire Speech

Scroll to the 58:53 Mark:

Thought-Provoking Questions That Need Answers

As mentioned in Dr. Walter S. Leal's paper:

"Dr. Scott Ritchie, James Cook University, Australia asked: 'Is anyone looking for the virus in birds?' This question captures the sentiment that both questions were thought provoking, and we still do not have all or many answers when it comes to ZIKV [the Zika virus]."[6]

Saint Louis encephalitis virus (SLEV) is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito.[7]

In temperate areas of the United States, SLEV disease cases occur primarily in the late summer or early fall. In the southern states, where the climate is milder, cases can occur year round. Although the geographic range of the virus extends from Canada to Argentina, human cases have almost exclusively occurred in the United States.[8] 

St. Louis encephalitis virus (SLEV) belongs to the family Flaviviridae (group B arborviruses). The principal reservoirs of SLEV include wild birds and domestic fowl, and the virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes (Culex tarsalis, Culex quinquefasciatus, Culex pipiens).[9]
 

Wolbachia Cannot Be Taken Back

No Way to Put the Genie Back in the Bottle

As stated on the Eliminate Dengue website:[10]

"Our aim is to spread Wolbachia into wild mosquito populations ... the bacteria is passed on from generation to generation and over time, the percentage of mosquitoes carrying Wolbachia grows until it remains high without any further releases. Our research has shown that Wolbachia can sustain itself in mosquito populations without continual reapplication ..."
 
Apparently, Eliminate Dengue has been infecting Aedes mosquitoes for six years. According to a July 1st, 2016 post in Entomology Today, Dr. Scott O'Neill, Dean of Science at Monash University and Professor of Biological Sciences stated:
 
"In two of our initial study sites in Australia, approximately 90 percent of the mosquitoes continue to be infected with Wolbachia after initial release more than six years ago."[11]
 

Assessing Key Safety Concerns of Wolbachia

This stern warning came from Dr. Anthony James, University of California-Irvine, in response to Dr. Thomas Scott, University of California-Davis, regarding the use of genetically-based vector control strategies: 

"These genetic tools might not be the best strategies for ZIKV [Zika virus] given that at this point there seem to be multiple vectors not only at the species but also at the population level. The current genetic technologies would not be appropriately applied to such complex systems."[6]

And as I wrote in Zika: The Warnings About Wolbachia and Culex Our Health Authorities are Ignoring:

a) Culex mosquitoes treated with Wolbachia were more likely to carry the [West Nile] virus.

b) Naturally Wolbachia-infected Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus mosquitoes may, in fact, be better vectors of malaria than Wolbachia-free mosquitoes.

Alarm Bells Should Be Ringing Everywhere

Zika-Infected Culex + Wolbachia = Unknown Risks

Red-Ruffed Lemur
Credit: Red-ruffed Lemur by Mathias Appel [Public Domain]

Culex Infect Humans With Filarial Worms

Worms Release Wolbachia and Wolbachia Also Plays an Inordinate Role in Diseases (and Probably Zika Too)

I found a study which appeared to address the key safety concerns of a Wolbachia-based strategy to control dengue transmission by Aedes mosquitoes[12] but what I discovered was unnerving.  

The study states: "The possible horizontal transfer to mosquito predators and non-predator species or environments in the vicinity of the mosquitoes were evaluated."
 
But all they only evaluated: spiders, spider eggs, soil samples, plant leaves, plant roots, earthworms, and millipedes.
 
And the study concluded: "All together, the results of these experiments show that there is no transmission of the bacteria to any of the environmental samples studied."
 

What About Birds? What About When Aedes Die?

Bats and birds are the most common predators of adult mosquitoes.[13] 

The only mention of birds in this study is: "Wolbachia have never been found in humans or other mammals, neither in birds, reptiles or fish."

 Wolbachia don’t naturally infect Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.[14]

My take: That probably means Wolbachia isn't good for any of those species.

Once Birds Eat the Wolbachia-Infected Aedes

Then, Wolbachia IS indeed Found in Birds, Right?

And Culex mosquitoes (which are also a Zika vector) prefer to feed on birds and breed in polluted water. And we know Culex mosquitoes also carry encephalitis, filariasis, and the West Nile virus.[15]

When Wolbachia-Infected Aedes Mosquitoes Die

Birds, Fish, Water Will Contain Their Wolbachia Strain

To be complete, there are numerous strains of Wolbachia. And the fact that it is natural bacteria doesn't mean it is safe.
 

Snake venom is natural but it isn't safe.

 
Aedes mosquitoes breed in clean water, prefer human hosts, and are eaten by birds. Once infected by Wolbachia, they will introduce a new pathogen in birds, fish, other species, and water. And surprisingly, Wolbachia can survive for at least a week in a dead host.
 
There is ample time for Culex mosquitoes to acquire it, multiple ways.

The study (published March 2nd, 2016) Zika Virus: Medical Countermeasure Development Challenges[16] states:

"Based on serology, but not verified by viral isolation, many other species may support Zika virus infection, including forest-dwelling birds, horses, goats, cattle, ducks and bats."

And the conclusion in the study Assessing key safety concerns of a Wolbachia-based strategy to control dengue transmission by Aedes mosquitoes[12] states:

" ... it is our responsibility to insure that the "remedy will cause no harm" ... to verify that the Wolbachia-based strategy to control mosquito-borne disease is safe for people, other organisms and the environment ... no experimental evidence of any negative impact of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes was obtained."[12]
 
My thoughts: You didn't test water, ducks, birds, fish, or Culex mosquitoes that will naturally acquire the Wolbachia you have infected Aedes mosquitoes with.
 

And My Jaw Dropped When I Read This:

"Assessing experimentally the potential consequences that could happen over a long-term period and large geographic scale could be a daunting task. Many questions related to long-term consequences can only be assessed once the release is done."[12]

What is this? Let's just wait and see what happens?

There are numerous strains of Wolbachia. And I have tried to find out the precise strains used in Wolbachia-infected Aedes mosquitoes. Here is a screenshot of my attempt on the Eliminate Dengue: Our Challenge Facebook page:

Here is Just a Snippet of the Conversation:

Eliminate Dengue Facebook Page Conversation With Me (Rose Webster)
Credit: Screenshot by Rose Webster of Eliminate Dengue: Our Challenge Facebook Page [Public Posts]

Wolbachia: Bacteria and Reproductive Parasite

"Both Wolbachia and host mitochondria are maternally transmitted and subsequently can be co-inherited by the offspring ... Previous studies have documented the role of Wolbachia in driving dramatic changes within host populations.

It is now widely accepted that endosymbiont screening and analysis should take place before any attempt to explain mtDNA patterns in terms of host ecology and evolution.  

In contrast, excessive infection intensity may result in pathology, resulting in negative effects upon host fitness, as seen in the Drosophilla melanogaster Wolbachia strain wMelpop."[17]
 
Remember, Eliminate Dengue Uses the wMel and wMelpop Strains
 
Their FAQ states: "We work with several strains of insect Wolbachia, including wMel and wMelPop."[18]
 
The study Wolbachia, normally a symbiont of Drosophila, can be virulent, causing degeneration and early death[19] states:
 
"Wolbachia, a maternally transmitted microorganism of the Rickettsial family, is known to cause cytoplasmic incompatibility, parthenogenesis, or feminization in various insect species. 
 
We have discovered a variant Wolbachia carried by Drosophila melanogaster ... which begins massive proliferation in the adult, causing widespread degeneration of tissues, including brain, retina, and muscle, culminating in early death. 
 
The 16s rDNA sequence is over 98% identical to Wolbachia known from other insects." 
 

Lymphatic Filariasis in Humans

Remember, Wolbachia is Not Normal in Humans

A fascinating read is Wolbachia: master manipulators of invertebrate biology.[20] But for the purposes of this article, I'm going to narrow the focus down to Wolbachia that causes filariasis and stress that Culex is a vector of Zika, West Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis, lymphatic filariasis and other diseases.[21]

The study Wolbachia in the inflammatory pathogenesis of human filariasis[22] states:

"Together these studies suggest that Wolbachia are the principal cause of acute inflammatory filarial disease."

Wolbachia have never been found in humans or other mammals, neither in birds, reptiles or fish.[12]

According to the CDC, the infection spreads from person to person via mosquito bites. Many mosquito species can transmit the parasite, depending on the geographic area. In the Americas, Culex quinquefasciatus is the most likely vector.[23]

Interestingly enough, it takes many mosquito bites over the course of several months to years in order to acquire lymphatic filariasis. Therefore, people that live in tropical or sub-tropical areas are at the greatest risk for infection. And the CDC added, "Short-term tourists have a very low risk."[23]

That last line (short-term tourists have a very low risk) might explain why the CDC and WHO ignored the advice of 240 scientists and public health experts in May 2016 to postpone or move the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games.[24]

Related: Zika Cases Emerging From the Olympics 

Culex Mosquitoes With Zika and Wolbachia

Full circle now: there have been millions and millions of Wolbachia-infected Aedes mosquitoes released worldwide over the past six years. My intro image (map) I created shows where three organizations have been carrying these releases out.
 
The study Horizontal transfer of Wolbachia between phylogenetically distant insect species by a naturally occurring mechanism[25] reminds us:
 
"Some of the best candidate vectors for the horizontal transmission of Wolbachia are insect parasitoids, which comprise around 25% of all insect species and attack arthropods from an enormous range of taxa."
 
All of those Wolbachia-infected Aedes mosquitoes will die at some point (eaten by birds, bats, etc) or die a natural death. Rain will carry these dead hosts into waterways, rivers, streams, and oceans – the places that Culex (and other mosquitoes) breed, develop and lay eggs. The Wolbachia inside them can survive at least a week.

 

Comparing Lymphatic Filariasis and Zika

Early symptoms of lymphatic filariasis are fever, enlarged and tender lymph nodes. The inguinal [groin] lymph nodes are often involved. There may be pain in the epididymis and testes. Patients also present with dermatitis, eye lesions, and subcutaneous nodules. 

Diagnosis is made by identifying microfilariae in thick blood smears. But because of the nocturnal periodicity of microfilariae, blood smears are ideally made at night when microfilarial levels are higher. 

Unfortunately, microfilariae may not be present in the blood during the early and late stages of the disease. 

Humans who leave endemic areas have been observed to have circulating microfilariae for several years.

Addendum November 25th, 2016: The source of the above information (about early symptoms of lymphatic filariasis) has been removed, I obtained this information from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK7844 

And the Similarities Observed With Zika

 
Dr. Michael Diamond, associate director of Washington University's Center for Human Immunology and Immunotherapy Programs:
 
"Not only did male mice infected with the Zika virus have a tougher time getting females pregnant, their levels of sex hormones crashed, and their testicles shrunk by 90 percent, possibly permanently."  
Sperm counts (and therefore fertility) and hormone levels all plummeted. Eventually mice became sterile.  
Prof Richard Sharpe, Honorary Professor, MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, and expert in male reproductive health, University of Edinburgh, said there were already anecdotal reports of testicular and groin pain in infected men, but some virus effects could be 'species specific'.[26]
 
The rest of the symptoms that are similar: fever, rash (which has been reported as itchy, like dermatitis), conjunctivitis (red eyes), pain behind the eyes and muscle/joint pain.[27]
 

Culex Species of Mosquitoes Need Testing

We  need to determine which Culex species (which probably varies geographically) might acquire a more worrisome strain of Wolbachia via these Wolbachia-infected Aedes mosquito releases.
 
This should encompass studies on all waterways where creatures we consume (e.g. fish or ducks) would be exposed to Wolbachia-infected Aedes mosquitoes (alive or dead) or via organisms that feed on them. 
 
Humans also consume many species of fish and fowl.
 
We need to determine if Culex infected by different strains of Wolbachia are more susceptible to the Zika virus. Because while Aedes mosquitoes are dying off, Culex could replace them, becoming a more infectious, dangerous vector of the Zika virus.
 
And keep in mind "blood-sucking arthropod vectors, ticks and fleas, and parasites of birds are able to transmit infectious agents between animals and/or humans, and are, therefore, crucial for epidemic studies."[28]
 
Even a March 16th, 2016 post in Quartz by Zheping Huang warned:
 
"Early research shows Wolbachia does not increase the risk of other pathogens being transmitted by mosquitoes, and it is not harmful to the environment—but because mosquitoes are prey for birds and fish, the long-term effects on the greater ecosystem are unclear."[29]
 
And when I learned that Singapore was a surprising place for Zika to crop up, I felt even more compelled to examine the Wolbachia-infected mosquito releases. A PRI post by Adam Ramsey published November 23rd, 2016 states:

Singapore "has an established reputation for being clean, rich and organized (as well as autocratic). Compared to the region, it's quite low on mosquitoes ... a fraction of those in neighboring countries."

Professor Eng Ong Ooi, deputy director of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Program at Singapore’s prestigious National University, said only 20 percent of the population under age 20 has had a dengue fever infection. In other nearby cities, the prevalence is much higher.

"If you go to Bangkok, if you go to any other Southeast Asian cities, then that number is probably nearer 80, 90 percent," Ooi said.[30]

Look again at where Singapore is on the map (in my intro image). On September 5th, 2016, CNN reported: "In just one week, Zika cases in Singapore have gone from zero to 258, raising concerns about a potential rapid surge in cases across Asia."[31]

In Southeast Asia, Singapore and Thailand have reported many of the cases this year, with hundreds each. Thailand also reported Southeast Asia’s first two cases of Zika-related microcephaly in infants in late September, and Vietnam reported what it said was probably its first Zika-related microcephaly case in late October.[32]

Wolbachia's Safety Only Tested on Earthworms,

Spiders, Spider Eggs, Soil, Millipedes, Leaves & Roots

Food Web of Mosquitoes With Wolbachia Strain
Credit: Public Domain (Left Portion) | RoseWrites (Human-Mosquito-Bat-Fish-Water Portion) Ask me about resuse

Funding For Wolbachia-Infected Mosquitoes

Includes Some of the Richest People on the Planet:

Screenshot of Who is Funding Eliminate Dengue
Credit: Screenshot of Eliminate Dengue: Funding [Fair Use]

To Summarize:

Culex Mosquitoes Must Be Tested For Zika and Wolbachia
Credit: Created by RoseWrites November 25th, 2016 [Ask me about reuse]

Addendum: November 28th, 2016

Eliminar el Dengue Colombia Left Me a Friendly Reply

Eliminar el Dengue Colombia Comments to Rose Webster on Facebook [Public Posts]
Credit: Screenshot by RoseWrites of Publicly Posted Comments on Eliminar el Dengue Colombia's Facebook Page

Addendum: Azithromycin, a Common Antibiotic

Seems to Prevent the Zika Virus From Infecting Cells

A November 29th, 2016 UCSF News Center post by Laura Kurtzman titled Zika in Fetal Brain Tissue Responds to a Popular Antibiotic[35] appears to support my theory about Wolbachia. It states:

UC San Francisco researchers have identified fetal brain tissue cells that are targeted by the Zika virus and determined that azithromycin, a common antibiotic regarded as safe for use during pregnancy, can prevent the virus from infecting these cells.

 Joseph DeRisi, PhD, chair of the UCSF Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, is consulting with clinical collaborators in Brazil with the hope of launching a clinical trial to see if azithromycin will lower the risk of fetal harm in pregnant women infected with Zika.

Antibiotics target bacteria (not viruses). And Zika is a virus. Viruses like to hide in bacteria and Wolbachia is a bacteria and reproductive parasite that plays an inordinate role in the pathogenesis of several diseases. I suspect it does with the Zika virus too.

The Dangers of Wolbachia by RoseWrites Poster
Credit: RoseWrites [The Dangers of Wolbachia Poster Available on Zazzle]
Where Wolbachia Enters Food Chain by RoseWrites Poster
Credit: RoseWrites [Where Wolbachia Enters Food Chain Poster Available on Zazzle]
Google search of "wolbachia in humans" (first page results)
Credit: RoseWrites Screenshot of Google Search (page 1): "wolbachia in humans" [Fair Use]

I Am No Longer Able to Comment Using Disqus

Disqus Banned Me After ABC News Removed My Posts

Every Comment of Mine Flagged as Spam Even Without Links and Comments Related to Topic
Credit: Screenshot of "Flagged Comment" / Banned By Disqus (ABC Removed My Posts)

Is This Why ABC News Removed My Posts?

Bill Gates Funds Wolbachia-Infected Mosquito Releases

Bill Gates Buys Attention of ABC News?
Credit: Screenshot of article Bill Gates Buys Attention of ABC News? [Fair Use]

Other Zika-Related Articles Written By Me

Zika and Its Path: What Our Public Health Authorities Are Hiding

Zika Virus: Our Tainted Blood Supply

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

Other Ways to Help Fight the Zika Virus

Spread the word. Let your public health authority know Culex could be a vector. Share this article. Ask questions.

I designed serious (and some humorous) products on Zazzle to help raise funds for Zika research (either in Canada and/or Brazil). My Zazzle collection and my devoted Facebook page[33] are both called: Zika: Let's Stop a Global Pandemic.[34]

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.