Sunday, June 5, 2016

Don't listen to Mike Adams, "the health ranger," when it comes to Zika

I had a interesting day yesterday. I was tagged in a post in a facebook group where someone had questions about a new article talking about Zika. It turns out the "health ranger" has decided to tell us all what a hoax the Zika outbreak is. Since I'm tired of his antics and countering his crazy claims piecemeal, I've written this debunk of his claims (he's recycled several of these). If you want to see the original article, here it is with do not link FB:

The numbered points in bold are the claims that the "health ranger" makes. As per his usual mode of operation, sources are far and few between with self cites (that are also not sourced) as the primary source used. To be up front, since I've already debunked one of these claims before, I do link to my previous article; however, it is properly sourced. 
With that here is a debunk of "10 shocking reasons why Zika virus fear is another fraudulent medical hoax and vaccine industry funding scam"

#1) The microcephaly cases (shrunken heads) in Brazil were caused by larvicide chemicals, not by zika

This first claim is based off a "report" from a group in Argentina that is opposed to all use of pesticides. There is no data to back it up, it's just an unsupported idea. I've previously covered this conspiracy theory as have others including many experts. The fact that this untested hypothesis is being pushed even after it has been conclusively shown that Zika is capable of not only crossing the placental barrier, but can cause birth defects shows a complete lack of research on the topic at best and deliberate misinformation at worst. This claim is completely false.

#2) Even according to the CDC, which is aggressively pushing false Zika fear, nearly all Zika infections are harmless, symptomless and require no hospitalization whatsoever

This is a bit more tricky. The data that forms the statistic of only 1 in 5 infected people showing symptoms from Zika is based the African strain of the virus and is based on lower outbreak numbers from before 2007 (the start of the current outbreak beginning with Yap Island). The Asian strain may be different as it is capable of causing more severe birth defects when this is not the case for the African strain. There are some issues with defining this number. For one, Zika is found in areas with Dengue and it causes similar symptoms to Dengue. Because of this many doctors may be misidentifying viral infections with a rash and fever as Dengue rather than Zika. Further complicating matters, Zika and Dengue are so closely related that the ELISA test for Dengue also reacts to the Zika virus. There is a new ELISA for Zika, but it still needs to be confirmed if positive. Right now the only way to confirm Zika infection is by RT-PCR (or qRT-PCR); however, new diagnostics tests are being developed. As if this wasn't complex enough, it now looks like prior Dengue virus infection can make subsequent Zika virus infection more severe. Based on all of this, researchers have already began the epidemiological studies to try and determine the actual rate of symptoms caused by the Asian strain of the Zika virus. 

Again using out of date information when there is more current information available, especially since most journals have agreed to make Zika research open access, is lazy at best and intentionally deceptive at worst.

#3) The CDC fabricated the science linking Zika to microcephaly

This whole idea is based purely on the CDC "whistleblower" fiasco that really didn't happen like Andy W. and Brian H. said it did. This lie has been debunked so many times, that it's not worth doing yet again. The repeated use of this claim is cannot be seen as anything but intentional deception.

#4) Zika virus fear was just used by Congress to remove bans on other toxic pesticide chemicals that cause cancer and Alzheimer's disease

No evidence was given to support this claim other than another conspiracy theory from natural "news." Without anything actual to address, there is no way to disprove a negative. It's like saying that the president, or the clerk at the local gas station for that matter, is a lizard person and expecting someone to try and show otherwise. This is an intentionally deceptive tactic.

#5) Zika virus hype was also invoked by Obama to funnel another $1.8 billion to the vaccine industry, claiming anyone who opposed the funding "opposed pregnant women"

The research on Zika has progressed at a pace that is beyond amazing. Nine months ago there were just a handful of papers on Zika. Now we have dozens of top quality studies that have been published. There has not been a single virus that we have learned as much about in such a short time period. Not HIV, not Ebola, not SARS. Research is not free or cheap. The techniques that are being used to study Zika are cutting edge and are not something that can be done without funding sources. Developing a vaccine will only make up part of this proposed budget. Vector control, education and research are also big parts of the President's proposed Zika budget. And although the "opposed to pregnant women" argument is a tad heavy handed, it is accurate. It's very easy to take the "moral high ground" based on fear and deception when you are not at risk. Before the vaccine has been developed and safety testing done, the "health ranger" has declared that this vaccine is dangerous and the risks of Zika causing birth defects are less than the risks of the vaccine. This is not science, it is ideology.

#6) Zika virus fear has been used as a weapon of control to terrorize the people of the Americas by violating their private property

This one puzzles me. It's almost like it's a bad thing that governments in South America are going into homes to kill Aedes aegypti (which likes to hide in houses to bite people) and clean up the trash, like tires and old containers, that A. aegypti is breeding in. I also might be mistaken, but I don't remember excess trash and old tires being one of the unalienable rights held dear by democracy. This can't be called anything other than intentionally inflammatory.

#7) Zika is just the latest viral hoax floated by governments... remember the great Bird Flu hoax that sold billions in vaccines?

Again no evidence is offered for this claim other than another NN article that cites other NN articles. In the absence of evidence, it is equally likely that the bird flu vaccines worked and prevented a major outbreak. But a vaccine isn't the first line of defense that the US government is planning on, it's not even second. It's the third option to be used only if there is a pandemic. The first option is to avoid exposure to infected birds and monitor the bird populations. The second is to utilize antivirals. But preparing a vaccine for an outbreak that hasn't occurred is not the vaccine failing, it's being ready just in case. Again, this is being intentionally deceptive.

#8) Zika virus fear is being used to justify the release of genetically modified mosquitoes into the wild

The threat of Dengue and Chikungunya alone are why this program was initiated and why field trials have been conducted. Dengue infects millions of people a year and Aedes aegypti is the most efficient vector of Dengue. It only makes sense to try and knock out the vector. 
Chikungunya translates to "that which bends up." It is intensely painful with join pain usually lasting up to a few weeks. However, for some people the pain can last for years. Believe me, these two viruses alone are justification enough for the release of GE-sterilized mosquitoes. I'm pretty sure that Zika is an afterthought for this program and was only mentioned as a possibility due to sharing a vector and to take advantage of an existing program. Again, this looks like lazy background research at best and intentional deception at worst.

#9) Zika fear is being used to justify spraying MORE of the very chemicals that are causing the shrunken heads in the first place, putting even more children at risk

Pyriproxyfen is not really sprayed for Aedes aegypti as it doesn't control it, but it is applied to water to kill the mosquitoes by preventing them from developing. However, this point is predicated on point 1 being accurate. Since it's not, this point is moot. 

#10) It's the PERFECT MEDICAL SCAM: Spraying more chemicals will cause more deformed babies, resulting in an even greater cry for more vaccines and more chemical spraying... and the cycle repeats
As with point 9, this point is predicated on other points being accurate. In fact, this point relies on all of the preceding points being true. Since this is clearly not the case for most of these (with some not being able to be addressed due to the nature of the argument), this point is meaningless.
This article from the "health ranger" is a prime example of ideology trumping a genuine concern for people and their health, let alone science. You can be sure that Mike won't be there helping the babies born with birth defects because he talked their mothers out of vaccinating. He'll even have the gall to blame it something else and cite his own website as a source. I'm sorry, but he just cannot be trusted.