Propaganda Machine Takes Aim at Zika Virus

Story at-a-glance

  • Zika virus is being blamed for increasing rates of microcephaly in Brazil, a condition in which babies are born with unusually small heads
  • Of the more than 4780 reported cases, only 404 infants have been confirmed as having microcephaly, and only 17 tested positive for Zika virus
  • Far more likely culprits contributing to microcephaly increases among infants born in Brazil are lack of sanitation, widespread vitamin A and zinc deficiency, environmental pollution, toxic pesticide exposures, and Tdap vaccination now mandated for all pregnant women


This is an older article that may not reflect Dr. Mercola’s current view on this topic. Use our search engine to find Dr. Mercola’s latest position on any health topic.

By Dr. Mercola

It's that time again — time for the pandemic outbreak propaganda machine to cry "Wolf!" and justify the mass use of vaccines and the necessity for chemical remediation. The World Health Organization (WHO) has already declared another global public health emergency.1

We've seen a string of these over-hyped virus scares over the past six years, from the bird and swine flu to Ebola — all of which died down as suddenly as they emerged, without causing the predicted widespread catastrophic damage in the real world.

This year, it's the Zika virus, which is being blamed for a rash of reports of microcephaly2,3 among infants born in Brazil. The condition, in which babies are born with unusually small heads, is said to have surged from an average of about 150 cases annually to more than 4,780 cases since October 2015.

Microcephaly Cases Vastly Over-Reported

The Brazilian government has already admitted that overly generous parameters resulted in dramatic over-reporting of the rare condition public health officials have associated with the Zika virus, which has been dubbed by the media as the "shrunken head" virus.

To be on the safe side, when Zika-affected areas began seeing a rise in microcephaly, the Brazilian government asked health officials to report any case in which a child was born with a head circumference smaller than 33 centimeters.

False positives were expected, and when they realized that most of these babies were in fact healthy and normal, the threshold was lowered to 32 centimeters in December. The limit may be lowered even further, to 31.9 centimeters for boys and 31.5 centimeters for girls.

As reported by The New York Times:4

"Of the cases examined so far, 404 have been confirmed as having microcephaly. Only 17 of them tested positive for the Zika virus...

Another 709 babies have been ruled out as having microcephaly ... underscoring the risks of false positives making the epidemic appear larger than it actually is. The remaining 3,670 cases are still being investigated." [Emphasis mine]

As noted by The New York Times, there's actually very little scientific evidence tying the Zika virus to this particular condition.

Still, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Zika virus a global health emergency5 on February 1, noting that the "main worry" is the virus' potential link to microcephaly and subsequent brain damage.

According to WHO, the Zika virus may have infected as many as 4 million people in the Americas, and public health officials in Brazil, Colombia and El Salvador are reportedly all researching the effects of Zika infection in pregnant women.

Poverty, Pollution, and Vitamin Deficiencies May Affect Microcephaly Rates in Brazil

The Zika virus was initially identified in 1947 in Uganda, where it was originally limited to rhesus monkeys. It's an arbovirus, meaning the disease is transmitted via mosquito, tick or flea bites.

According to ATCC,6 a "global biological materials resource...organization whose mission focuses on the acquisition, authentication, production, preservation, development, and distribution of standard reference microorganisms," the Zika virus7 — which they sell for about $500 — causes paralysis and death.

In humans, Zika infection typically causes only mild flu-like symptoms, if any, and there does not appear to be any prior evidence suggesting it might cause birth defects.

That certainly doesn't exclude the possibility, of course, but there are many other factors and co-factors that offer a far more likely and rational explanation for the rise in microcephaly in this area of Brazil, besides Zika-carrying mosquitoes.

For starters, the "outbreak" is occurring in a largely poverty-stricken agricultural area of Brazil that uses large amounts of banned pesticides.8,9,10

Between these factors and the lack of sanitation and widespread vitamin A and zinc deficiency, you already have the basic framework for an increase in poor health outcomes among newborn infants in that area.11

Environmental pollution12,13 and toxic pesticide exposure have been positively linked to a wide array of adverse health effects, including birth defects. When you add all these co-factors together, an increase in microcephaly doesn't seem like such a far-fetched outcome.

Vitamin A Deficiency Linked to Microcephaly

Vitamin A and zinc deficiency is considered endemic in Brazil,14,15,16 and both of these nutritional deficiencies are known to depress immune function.17,18,19

More importantly, vitamin A deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of microcephaly specifically,20,21 and zinc is known to play an important role in the structure and function of the brain.22

Even the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists malnutrition and exposure to toxic chemicals as two of the three known risk factors. The third is certain infections during pregnancy, including rubella, cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis, and others.23

Researchers24 have also noted that microcephaly follows "an apparent autosomal recessive pattern," and may be the result of a recessed gene.

Atrazine Also Implicated in Microcephaly

The pesticide Atrazine also appears to be a viable culprit. According to research25 published in 2011, small head circumference was listed as a side effect of prenatal Atrazine exposure.

Atrazine is used to prevent pre- and post-emergence weeds and is the second most commonly used herbicide after Roundup. As noted by

"The most obvious cause of birth defects in this area is direct contact and absorption of pesticides. A study of pesticide use on tomatoes27 in the Northern State of Pernambuco, Brazil, indicates high exposure to pesticide workers and poor application methods which threaten the ecology of the area.

Women washed the pesticide application equipment, generally in the work environment, without protective clothing or without observing the recommended three-fold washing process ... Of the women workers, 32% reported being pregnant more than five times ... Almost three-quarters of the women (71%) reported miscarriages, and 11% reported having mentally and/or physically impaired offspring."

Why Is Brazil Overlooking Teratogenic Larvicide Added to Drinking Water in Affected Area?

A report28,29 by an Argentine physician's organization called "Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns" also challenges the theory that Zika virus is responsible for the microcephaly cases in Brazil. They note that for the past 18 months, a chemical larvicide that causes malformations in mosquitoes (pyroproxyfen) has been applied to the drinking water in the affected area of Brazil.

Pyroproxyfen is manufactured by Sumitomo Chemical, long-term strategic partners of Monsanto, and has been used in a state-controlled program to eradicate mosquitoes.

This chemical inhibits growth in mosquito larvae, thereby producing malformations that disable and/or kill the mosquitoes. According to "Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns," it's also an endocrine disruptor and teratogenic, meaning it causes birth defects. The organization also points out that Zika virus has never been associated with birth defects previously, even in areas where 75 percent of the population has been infected. According to the report:

"Malformations detected in thousands of children from pregnant women living in areas where the Brazilian state added Pyroproxyfen to drinking water are not a coincidence, even though the Ministry of Health places a direct blame on the Zika virus for this damage."

Aerial Spraying of Neonicotinoids Also Causes Skeletal Malformations

The list of pesticides that have the potential to disrupt fetal development is long. Yet another suspect is Imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid. In October 2012—around the same time that these women would have been getting pregnant--Brazil lifted its ban on aerial spraying of neonicotinoids. In30 2001, it was reported that Imidacloprid fed to pregnant rats and rabbits in "maternally toxic" doses caused skeletal malformation in a small percentage of fetuses.31,32

In December 2013, the U.K. Daily Mail33 also reported that neonicotinoids were suspected of causing developmental problems in babies and children. Another 2013 study34 showed adverse events with embryo development and neonicotinoids. Perhaps it's not any single one of these pesticides that is to blame. Perhaps the rise in microcephaly cases is the result of exposure to a terrible mixture of toxic pesticides before or during pregnancy?

Mandatory Vaccination Program of Pregnant Women Took Effect 2015

Also, in October 2014 the Brazilian government mandated that all pregnant women must receive the pertussis-containing Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine, effective as of 2015.35

The fact that birth defects began rising toward the end of 2015 seems more suspicious in light of this mandate than the possibility that Zika infection is solely responsible — especially when you consider that pertussis vaccine has previously been linked to brain inflammation and brain damage in infants, and the safety of administering Tdap to pregnant women has never been proven.36

In the summer of 2015, Dr. Kathryn Edwards, director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program, received a $307,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to study the immune responses of pregnant women receiving Tdap, the vaccine in question.37 Her conclusions remain to be seen.

But a number of previous studies have demonstrated that stimulating the immune system of a pregnant woman is a very bad idea. So why mandate Tdap vaccine but not vitamin A and zinc supplementation for pregnant women? Studies showing adverse health effects from maternal immune activation include but are not limited to the following samples:

Brain Behavior and Immunity 2001:38 Increased cytokine levels during pregnancy is a potential risk factor for psychotic illness in offspring

Biological Psychiatry 2006:39 Immune activation during pregnancy in mice leads to dopaminergic hyperfunction and cognitive impairment in the offspring, and may promote schizophrenia

Brain Behavior and Immunity 2006:40 Immune stimulation during pregnancy was found to promote neurodevelopmental mental diseases, including but not limited to schizophrenia in the offspring

Journal of Neuroscience 2007:41 Maternal immune activation alters fetal brain development, and may predispose children to schizophrenia and autism

Journal of Neuroscience 2008:42 Inflammation during a critical postnatal period causes a long-lasting increase in seizure susceptibility

Medical Veritas 2008:43 Excessive vaccination during brain development may promote autism spectrum disorders

Are Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes Linked to Zika Infection?

Interestingly enough, the Gates Foundation has also financed the development of genetically-engineered (GE) mosquitoes,44 designed by a biotech company called Oxitec to combat dengue fever and Zika — a project some suspect may have somehow backfired, resulting in a Zika outbreak instead.45

Considering the fact that the transgenic mosquitoes are designed to kill the offspring before they reach breeding maturity — they're carrying a "suicide" or "self-destruct gene"46 if you will — you may wonder how such mosquitoes could possibly promote the spread of Zika. Well, they can't. Not intentionally, anyway, which is what some people have suggested.

There are some potential problems though. This genetic "kill switch" starts to fail in the presence of the antibiotic tetracycline.47 Brazil is the third largest consumer of antibiotics for food and animal production48 and, according to a 2009 analysis,49 an estimated 75 percent of the tetracyclines administered to farm animals end up being excreted in waste.

The use of manure and sewage sludge as fertilizers is a major route of spread of antibiotics in the environment. (Little is known about the environmental impact of tetracycline, but Brazilian researchers50 have found alarming situations where the presence of these drugs in drinking water has resulted in bacterial resistance.)

According to Oxitec documents,51 in the presence of tetracyclines the survival rate of the GE mosquitoes' offspring may be as high as 15 percent. However, aside from not decimating the mosquito population as efficiently as intended, there's really NO evidence to suggest that these GE mosquitoes are somehow intentional carriers of the Zika virus.

That said, while the GE mosquitoes are supposed to be all male, which don't bite, if females either happen to slip through the process, or for some reason survive, there may be a risk that they could transfer their modified DNA to the host. What the ramifications of this might be is unclear.

GE Mosquitoes Claim Success — Yet We Need Harsher Pesticides?

Oxitec released the first batches of transgenic Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands in September 2009.52

Malaysia releases followed in 2010. In July 2012, the company had set up a large-scale transgenic mosquito farm in Brazil. The GE mosquitoes were released into the wild in Juazeiro, Brazil in the summer of 2015, and shortly thereafter Oxitec announced53 they had "successfully controlled the Aedes aegyptimosquito that spreads dengue fever, chikungunya, and zika virus, by reducing the target population by more than 90 percent."

Research54 findings published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases claim the sterile breed had reduced the mosquito population in one Brazilian suburb by 95 percent. Despite such claims of successful decimation of the disease-carrying insect, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff recently made an announcement saying: "each federal public official has to transform into a combatant against the mosquito and its reproduction."

Thousands of soldiers and state employees have been enlisted to eradicate mosquitoes wherever they may lurk. "We will do everything, absolutely everything in our reach to protect you,"President Rousseff said55 in her speech, addressing all the mothers and future mothers of Brazil — and then she turns around and orders women and children to be fumigated with toxic chemicals! Oh, the tragic irony!

'Health Experts' Call for Return of DDT

Groups like the Manhattan Institute are even calling for the return of DDT56 to address the mosquito problem! This is despite the fact that DDT passes freely through the placenta during pregnancy,57 where it gains direct access to the developing fetus and its brain.58

Studies have linked DDT to high blood pressure, decreased fertility, premature delivery, adult diabetes, and Alzheimer's.59 Moreover, DDT has also been linked to microcephaly,60 so using this toxin would definitely not be the answer to the current problem!

As noted by STAT News:61

"The United States banned DDT in 1972 after it was found to persist in the environment for decades, build up in food chains, and kill eagles, pelicans, and other wildlife. But the pesticide was never banned globally.

Though the 2001 Stockholm Convention called on countries to eliminate use of DDT and related chemicals, DDT is still used in African and other countries to control malaria-carrying mosquitoes (which, as predicted, evolved widespread resistance to the chemical).

A significant concern about DDT is that when a mosquito population evolves resistance to it (as individual insects that harbor DDT-defying mutations leave countless more descendants than vulnerable insects), the creatures also develop resistance to other, safer insecticides...

Epidemiologist Brenda Eskenazi, Ph.D. of the University of California, San Francisco, who led a 2009 study raising concerns about the human health effects of DDT exposure, agreed that DDT might not work in Brazil and other countries where Zika is spreading. 'They should use whatever they can to control the virus,' she said, 'but they have to do it safely.'

According to news photos, 'men in hazmat suits are spraying pesticides around women and children' who have no protective clothing or anything else, she said, 'which is horrible and upsetting.'"

Foggers and Mosquito Sprays Don't Work on This Mosquito

It's astounding how short-sighted many are, but that's what happens when you incite panic — people don't stop to think. In this case, recommendations to use toxic foggers and sprays is bound to do FAR more harm than good, if for no other reason than the fact that they're ineffective against Aedes aegypti, the species of mosquito in question.62

These tiny black and white striped mosquitoes do not fly far — their range being a mere 300 to 600 feet. Since it's so difficult to catch them airborne, insecticidal sprays and foggers are mostly useless for controlling them. Also, they feed during the daytime, not at night, which is typically when the fog-trucks will roll through the neighborhood. As noted by

"To feed, they have to stick close to their intended targets, a.k.a. us. They live under decks, patio furniture, and in homes that don't have cool air they don't much like air conditioning. They especially love the drip trays that collect extra water under potted plants ... They 'can breed in incredibly small amounts of water,' says Joe Conlon, spokesman for the American Mosquito Control Association.

'When I was in Suriname, South America, several years ago, I saw them breeding very happily in discarded soda bottle caps,' he says. In New Jersey, researchers at Rutgers University found them breeding in water that had pooled in discarded snack-size potato chip bags.

'These mosquitoes are in people's backyards,' says Dina Fonseca, Ph.D., an entomologist and associate professor at Rutgers. They live in containers, she says, and are 'urban, domestic mosquitoes.'"

Other questionable suggestions on the table include using X-rays and/or Gamma rays to sterilize mosquitoes. According to Reuters:64

"Such laboratory-bred male mosquitoes could then be released in the wild to mate with the females of the species who then bear eggs that never hatch, thus reducing the number of insects in a given area without killing any animals or using chemicals."

Emergency Declaration Begins Another Round of Massive Profiteering

The emergency declaration begins another round of massive profiteering for drug and vaccine companies. And this year, the chemical- and biotech industries get to ride gunshot too. This is how they survive — scaring the heck out of people at regular intervals while making tons of money in the process.

As expected, Zika vaccines are in the works, with companies racing to become the first to deliver a remedy,65,66 no matter how poorly tested and ultimately dangerous they might be — all under the auspices of saving tons of lives, of course.

Yet it's worth remembering that any pandemic vaccine fast tracked to market in the U.S. during a "public health emergency" is completely shielded from liability for injuries and deaths. Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck are all looking to develop a Zika vaccine.

The Indian company Bharat Biotech somehow got a head start, and began working on two Zika vaccines in November 2014.67 Would it surprise you to find out that this company is also linked to the Gates Foundation? They received $50 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to research and conduct human trials on a malaria vaccine.68

Merck, Syngenta, and Bayer are also partners in the Gates Foundation, as are chemical giants Monsanto69 and DuPont. This unholy alliance is just one of the reasons why I don't trust Bill Gates' philanthropy, he might be one of the most dangerous individual powers on the planet.70

U.S. Overreacts Based on Poorly Constructed Fear Porn

Like many other nations, the U.S. has overreacted to the news and is increasing mosquito eradication efforts. According to some models, an estimated 200 million Americans, or over 60 PERCENT of the U.S. population, may become infected with Zika this summer.71 So far, about three dozen cases of Zika virus infection have been confirmed in 11 U.S. states — most of which, according to the report, were thought to have been acquired by people while out of the country.

The CDC urges pregnant women to avoid traveling to countries with reported transmissions of the infection — a total of 24 countries so far.72

As noted by Reuters:73

"With no specific federal guideline yet in place to control the spread of the Zika virus in the United States, some mosquito-heavy states like Florida are stepping up spraying and education programs. But, the North and West have yet to boost prevention. Only one out of the more than 30 confirmed cases of Zika in the country appears to have been transmitted locally, in Dallas, Texas.

Public health officials are bracing for the time when warmer weather increases the number of mosquitoes that can transmit the virus by biting an infected person and spreading it to others. The types of mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, are common in Florida, where mosquito season is year-round, and along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, including Houston."

Panama, India, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Florida in the U.S. are also slated to receive Oxitec's "self-destruct" mosquitoes74,75 and the longer the Zika scare continues, the more likely these little critters will be released in mosquito-ridden areas across the world.

Is this wise? Chances are we may be in for some nasty surprises. As noted by Helen Wallace in 2012, a British environmentalist with the organization GeneWatch:76

"This mosquito is Dr. Frankenstein's monster, plain and simple. To open a box and let these man-made creatures fly free is a risk with dangers we haven't even begun to contemplate."

We may not like the mosquito, but that doesn't mean it serves no function in the ecosystem. If we successfully eradicate this mosquito, what might the ramifications be ecosystem-wide?

How Does U.S. Explain 25,000 Microcephaly Cases Annually — Without Zika?

In the U.S., approximately 25,000 infants are diagnosed with microcephaly each year.77 Brazil has about 70 percent of the population the U.S. has, and now reports just over 400 cases, 17 of which tested positive for the Zika virus. So is this really the global emergency it's being made out to be?

And more importantly, is Zika virus really responsible for these birth defects? Colombia reports that 3,177 pregnant women have tested positive for Zika virus, yet no cases of microcephaly have occurred.78

The evidence suggests implicating Zika virus may be a matter of convenience — leaders of the public-private partnership between industry and government are quickly blaming the rise in microcephaly on disease-carrying mosquitoes in order to sell more GE mosquitoes, to sell more toxic insecticides, and to have an excuse to develop and sell more vaccines.

All the while, they are keeping hidden some of the most likely culprits — poor nutrition and toxic environmental exposures like pesticides, as well as vaccines given during pregnancy when the fetus is most susceptible to harm. By throwing up a convenient veil in the form of Zika-infected mosquitoes, business can not only go on as usual, but grow and expand profits to boot.

I have no immediate answers to this problem, other than a firm suggestion, and that is to put on your thinking cap and assess the situation based on what the actual evidence shows, and do not just go by the sound bytes regurgitated by the talking heads. Sooner or later the insanity must end.

We cannot expect a healthy infant and child population when pregnant women are assaulted with toxins at every turn. And MORE toxins is NOT the answer! This really should be self-evident.

For all intents and purposes my review of the available evidence strongly suggests that the Zika virus is just another fabricated threat designed to support even further use of profitable but unproven and highly ineffective products like vaccines. For a quick list of some of the most common toxic threats to avoid during pregnancy, take a look at this infographic. For more healthy pregnancy tips, please see my "No-Nonsense Guide to a Naturally Healthy Pregnancy and Baby."

Toxins to Avoid If Pregnant
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