Finding Out the Real Number of Zika Cases
Will Likely Be Impossible For Three Main Reasons
Won't Disclose Data
On September 14th, 2016, TheJournal.ie, The Guardian, Independent, BBC (and others) reported that Zika had been diagnosed in several people who had travelled outside of Northern Ireland.
The Irish Times reported that when the health agency was asked if a person treated recently had been travelling to the Olympic Games in Brazil, the spokeswoman said she could not provide a response since the organization "does not talk about individual cases".
If similar "policies" are in place in other regions of the world, I doubt we will get an accurate picture of the Zika cases that were acquired because the 2016 Summer Olympic Games were held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
According to a July 16th, 2016 report by Public Health England:
Aedes aegypti is only present around the Black Sea (of Russia and Georgia) and Madeira island. Aedes albopictus has been found in Paris over the last two years and will probably become established in northern France (Medlock, Leach 2015).
But here's the kicker: out of a predicted 18 species of mosquitoes in Northern Ireland, the most common is Culex pipiens (aka the northern house mosquito).Credit: By Own scan, slightly modified. Original by Emil August Goeldi (1859 - 1917). [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo credit: By Own scan, slightly modified. Original by Emil August Goeldi (1859 - 1917). [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Canada, which has (at least) 82 species of mosquitoes, is also home to medical entomologist Fiona Hunter.
Following Dr. Hunter's March 2016 attendance at the Summit on Controlling Aedes aegypti in Maceio, Brazil, she made this note to self: There was "no mosquito infection data to support ZIKV transmission by Aedes aegypti in Brazil."
During Dr. Hunter's presentation at the Zika Symposium: 2016 International Congress of Entomology in Orlando, Florida, she even posted this on a big screen for the audience.
Zika Virus Found in Saliva of Culex Pipiens
Culex quinquefasciatus, aka the common mosquito
Dr. Ayres previously notified the scientific and WHO in February 2016 about Culex quinquefasciatus (aka southern house mosquito) as a likely vector of Zika was also at the same Zika Symposium Dr. Hunter attended.
According to Science News, Dr. Hunter confirmed the worst discovery for Europe, U.S., Canada, and other regions around the world:
"... 11 out of 50 wild-caught Culex pipiens pipiens mosquitoes picked up the virus somewhere on their bodies. So far, she has completely analyzed one mosquito and reports that the virus was indeed in its saliva."
A recent paper by Dr. Walter Leal, distinguished professor of biochemistry at UC Davis, made it clear:
"Three independent groups from Canada, China, and Brazil presented and discussed laboratory and field data strongly suggesting that the southern house mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus, also known as the common mosquito, is highly likely to be a vector in certain environments."
And an unpublicized report from Guo et al. (which I posted on Google) also confirmed, as Dr. Leal states: "clear evidence of infection, dissemination, replication in salivary glands and transmission to infant mice by Cx. pipiens quinquefasciatus".
As the name implies, Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus is a hybrid.
"Both species hybridize in areas where populations overlap and their distribution areas include a distinctive hybrid zone between populations of Cx. pipiens in the north and Cx. quinquefasciatus in the south (Vinogradova 2000, Smith and Fonseca 2004, Harbach 2012). This hybrid zone traditionally includes the area between latitudes 36° to 39° N."
What About Other Cases From the Games?
People Arriving From Brazil Were Not Screened
A September 7th post called Zika: Nigeria fails to monitor Olympic returnees caught my eye. In it, I learned:
"Officials, supporters and athletes, who participated in the sporting events, said that health officials did not screen them at the airports on their return as was done during the Ebola outbreak."
I can't believe the Nigerian government missed the chance to catch (and possible contain) a Zika-infected Olympic athlete or visitor from Brazil.
"At least, they should have taken our details or done a temperature check like they did during the Ebola outbreak," said one of the Olympic athletes.
What's more, a Lancet study identified Nigeria among the eight countries that may record a Zika virus outbreak in the next few months. Other vulnerable countries listed are: India, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
And when I saw the CDC map of all countries with active Zika virus transmission, my heart sank. Clearly, countries in Africa are being completely ignored by our public health authorities during this global health crisis.
CDC's Map of All Countries and Territories
with Active Zika Virus Transmission (as of Oct. 5, 2016)
Indian Athletes, a Coach, and Team Captain
Had Symptoms of Zika at the 2016 Olympic Games
Indian athlete Sudha Singh, who participated in the 3000 metre steeplechase at the Rio Olympics, gave blood samples to test for the Zika virus.
OP Jaisha, Kavita Raut and Lalita Babar, athletes who shared an apartment with Sudha in Rio, were also investigated by health officials.
Apparently, Sudha Singh and OP Jaisha were diagnosed with swine flu. And Kavita Raut was quarantined. I could not find any firm diagnosis publicly posted about either Raut or Babar.
Authorities were unsure of how the athletes Singh and Jaisha, caught swine flu (aka H1N1). But Dr Shashidhar Buggi, director of Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases, added, "... there is no need for the patient to be put in quarantine."
Coach Became Ill at the Olympics
On August 28th, a Korean national who lives in Kaohsiung (a member of Taiwan's delegation to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro) developed a fever. On August 31st, he was hospitalized and reported as a "suspected case of Zika or dengue fever".
But Yan Yu-wen, a CDC spokeswoman, claimed the results of the blood tests indicated that he was not infected with either virus.
Made me wonder if the Trioplex assay (which fails to detect 40 percent of Zika cases, including all four strains of dengue) was used in this – and other – cases.
Chinese Team Captain Refused to Talk to Journalists
A pale-faced Shang Chunsong (team captain and China's No. 1 medal contender for the all-around event) refused to talk to the journalists after a training session.
Mao Yi, another member of the Chinese team, revealed that Shang was having a fever. Huang Yubin, head coach of the Chinese team, confirmed that Shang had been ill for three days and she was too weak to complete routines on the apparatus.
Olympic Athletes Were Actually Being Lied To
Told No Evidence of Zika Virus Transmission Via Sex
When I discovered that members of Zimbabwe's soccer team "threatened to quit over lack of information about the Zika virus", I was gobsmacked to find the following statements on page 3, the second paragraph, of a guide prepared by Dr. Austin Jeans, head of Zimbabwe's Rio Olympics medical team.Credit: Partial Screenshot by RoseWrites [Fair Use]
I even wrote to them on July 20th, 2016 and included credible studies (all sent to INFO@zoc.co.zw) but never had a response. And as of today (October 31st, 2016), this part of the information guide remains unchanged.
Scroll up and take another peek at CDC's map of All Countries & Territories with Active Zika Virus Transmission.
Zimbabwe – in fact, half of Africa – is entirely hidden by an enlarged map of the Caribbean.
The Location of Zimbabwe on CDC's Map
of the Global Zika Virus Distribution (January 2016)
Northern Ireland and Zimbabwe
Both Outside of Aedes Range But Not Culex
Plenty of Genetic Differences in Mosquitoes
Plus About 40 Zika Strains From Two Main Lineages
The combinations of factors that influence Zika vectors seem almost endless.
Added into the mix is dengue, which appears to cause cross-enhancement of the Zika virus. And there are four distinct strains of dengue.
Once I soaked up all the data, one thing was obvious: there has been no virtuous effort made by our public health authorities to count, screen, track, or contain the global spread of the Zika virus.
Sadly, around May 2017 (nine months post-Olympics), is when we will be hearing some disturbing stories about Zika-related conditions in men, women, children, and babies.
I just hope it's not too late for us to enact our own personal travel restrictions and eradicate mosquitoes with safe, proven, neurotoxin-free methods.