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New evidence suggests birth defects not caused by Zika, prompting investigation into environmental factors

Government leaders in Brazil, the epicenter of the Zika virus outbreak that’s being blamed on infected mosquitoes, are having second thoughts about its cause, new reports indicate. After noticing anomalous trends with regards to symptoms of the disease and where they’re breaking out and spreading, epidemiologists and vector specialists now believe that environmental pollution is a more likely cause of the outbreak – not necessarily mosquitoes.

Either that, or some combination of mosquitoes and chemical toxicity is to blame for the wave of birth defects, miscarriages and other pregnancy-related problems being seen in pockets throughout the country, but not everywhere. Some areas are seeing high numbers of these horrific health outcomes while many others aren’t, even though mosquitoes are present in all of them – and nowhere in Brazil are health experts seeing the “explosion” of Zika cases that was expected based on the mosquito narrative.

Brazil’s Ministry of Health has already launched an investigation to look into the cluster of babies born with brain defects associated with the Zika virus. Though it’s expected to take several months to reach a conclusion, the inquiry aims to solve the puzzle of what, exactly, is causing pregnant mothers to suffer perinatal abnormalities, and their babies to suffer birth defects: Zika, environmental pollution or some combination of both?

“We can see there is a kind of cluster in [part of] the northeast region with high prevalence and high severity, of miscarriage and congenital malformation that is really severe; but we didn’t find this in other states – even the [adjacent] states didn’t see the same situation as in the epicenter,” Fatima Marinho, coordinator of epidemiological analysis and information at Brazil’s Ministry of Health, told the press.

“We were preparing for an explosion and it didn’t come.”


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