God Dammit people have to get Zika right

Yes, Zika is a horrible health threat. Yes, we really, really, want to do something about it. But we do need to understand it:

Now that the World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus a public health emergency, we must remember one thing: we can’t turn the clock back on globalization. There is no role for travel or trade bans unless we issue mosquitoes passports and restrict their movement – a ridiculous notion.

Almost six million foreigners travel to Brazil every year. It is estimated that another half a million will travel to Brazil for the Olympics, just under half of whom are expected to be Americans. Travellers returning from the Olympics could carry Zika back to the US, but it’s only a matter of time before that happens anyway. With its warm, humid climate, much of the US south is an ideal habitat for the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the transmitter of Zika virus.

No, no and thrice no you stupid fucking idiot. Zika is not about the spread of a particular species of mosquito. It is also not (as Bill Mckibben seems to think) about climate change. It is about the spread of a specific virus among an extant distribution of mosquitos. Just as with malaria outbreaks.

The mozzie feeds on an infected human (or other animal). This infects the mozzie, which then infects the next feeding platform, human or other animal. You can have a vast population of the relevant mozzie and as long as no infected humans (or other animals) enter that population then Zika will not spread. To misappropriate a phrase from elsewhere, there’s a co-dependency here. There is no mozzie to mozzie transmission of Zika, as there isn’t with malaria.

This is hugely important. For, for example, the way to stop it moving from, say, Brazil to the Southern US, where there is that resident mozzie population which could be infected, is to stop people with Zika moving from Brazil to the US.

It’s only if you understand what is actually happening that you can produce a solution. No, I don’t actually recommend banning human travel. But it really is sod all to do with coal burning or even mozzie populations spreading. It’s an infection within extant mozzie populations.

22 thoughts on “God Dammit people have to get Zika right”

  1. Don’t these people understand that the Earth’s only reason for being protected is that it is home to the universe’s most endangered species, the mosquito?

    If we follow the advise to wipe them out we’ll be gone soon after.

  2. So Much For Subtlety

    There is no mozzie to mozzie transmission of Zika, as there isn’t with malaria.

    Yeah but is that true for the gay mosquitoes too?

    OK, but seriously, weren’t we saying something about Australians and their servos, oppos, thongos or whatever?

  3. I seem to remember that the last malaria outbreak in the UK was just after WW1, when soldiers brought it back from the Middle-East theatre.
    Is there any reason to think that it couldn’t happen with Zika, in a hottish Summer?

  4. I think most of the mosquito-breeding soggy patches in the UK have been drained in WW1, along with better water sanitation. As Tim says, you need an infected human to be bitten by a UKian mossie to transmit the infection to the UK. I think the last UK-bred (as opposed to imported) malaria outbreak was in the 19th century.

  5. @jgh

    The point I was trying to make was: could a Brit who travels to Brazil and gets bitten by an infected mossie, comes home, then gets bitten by a UK mossie, cause an outbreak here?

  6. So Much For Subtlety

    Jonathan – “Is there any reason to think that it couldn’t happen with Zika, in a hottish Summer?”

    There is next to no chance that malaria would be transmitted in the UK – even though mosquitoes can survive quite well. Archangel in the north of Russia had a malaria epidemic in the 1920s.

    However if a British person got seriously sick, they would go to hospital and the chain of infection would be broken. The question is how many people get Zika and don’t notice. Unfortunately it seems that it might be a lot.

  7. So Much For Subtlety

    Ian B – “So Zika is what we’re all scared of this year is it?”

    It’s coz they’s African innit? Oh wait, that is why we are not allowed to be afraid of it.

    Yet again Nature is clearly trying to tell us something. Like perhaps that tropical areas are full of horrible diseases spread by nasty insects and that is why God gave us DDT and chainsaws?

    I look forward to the usual Greenies telling us that Zika and its birth defects are all just a part of the circle of life. I suspect that most of the world’s women will prefer some of that White male cis-heterosexual phallocentric science when it comes up with a vaccination.

  8. I suspect Arnald is microcephalic. Perhaps his mother was bitten by a zika-carrying mosquito in some French estaminet.

  9. “Is microcephalic a bit like microphallic, only upstairs?”

    Perhaps Arnald can tell us, as I believe he has both conditions.

  10. So Much For Subtlety

    Bloke In Italy – “Very good point – it’s nothing that a few thousand tons of DDT can’t fix…”

    The eradication of malaria by DDT was ruined because, basically, the Third World is too feckless and incompetent to co-operate with the US at killing mosquitoes. If they had just been a little bit competent, malaria would now be a thing of the past. But they weren’t.

    Brazil was. They used to have malaria and the US got rid of it by mass spraying. Would it work again? The problem is likely to be that Zika does not present clear symptoms. A lot of people appear to be asymptomatic. Like HIV. So you cannot isolate them and prevent the disease spreading.

    However the fight against malaria is slowly, well, not being won but let’s say it is a long slow war of attrition in which malaria is not winning. That is mostly down to mosquito nets. Which are often dipped in DDT. And house spraying. With DDT needless to say.

    So DDT will feature in the solution to Zika as long as the Greens don’t decide to commit genocide again. As they did, knowingly, with malaria and getting DDT banned.

  11. So Much For Subtlety

    Social Justice Warrior – “There is not and never has been any international ban on using DDT for disease vector control. Banning DDT for agricultural use is a sensible measure which makes it more effective for vector control.”

    You say to-Mah-to, I say to-MAY-to. The fact is Greenies were determined to make people stop using it. They invented a bunch of lies about it. They got a de facto ban in place. After all, it is not as if the Africans are making a lot of it themselves. If you get the US to stop giving it to them, you have essentially banned it.

    And then millions died. The Greens have killed more than the Nazis. But presumably not more than the Communists.

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