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Mankind's destruction of the ecosystem causing rapid spread of Zika virus that causes horrific birth defects


Zika virus
(NaturalNews) Call it Mother Nature's revenge ...

The spread of a once-rare disease that causes birth defects – and which may also be linked to cases of another paralyzing disease – is almost certainly related to mankind's destruction of ecosystems.

The disease – Zika virus – is spreading rapidly throughout the world, with more than a dozen cases having now been reported in the United States. The mosquito-borne Zika virus has been linked to a rise in cases of microcephaly, a horrific birth defect that causes babies to be born with unusually small heads and brain damage.

Scientists are also investigating a possible link between the virus and the contraction of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a disease that can cause paralysis and long-term nerve damage.

From The Washington Post:

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reported this week that a dozen cases of Zika virus have been confirmed in the United States, is expanding its advisory that pregnant women should avoid travel to countries currently seeing high rates of infection.

"The agency's initial list contained 14 countries, but the CDC on Friday added eight more -- in South America, the Caribbean and Polynesia -- as places where the reach of the virus is growing."

Zika virus has infected more than one million people in Brazil, and is expected to spread throughout the Americas, even though the disease was virtually unheard of in the Western Hemisphere until recently. In fact, although the virus was discovered in animals well over half a century ago, no human cases were reported before 2007.

Until May of 2015, the only reported cases of the disease in this hemisphere were found in Easter Island. Since then, the virus has appeared in countries throughout South America and the Caribbean:

"The virus was discovered in 1947 in a feverish rhesus monkey living in the Zika Forest of Uganda, but until 2007 scientists knew of only 14 human cases of the disease. That year it arrived on the travel-brochure-perfect Yap Island in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Within a few months, nearly three-quarters of the island's 11,000 or so residents older than 3 had been infected. ...

"In 2013 Zika popped up again, this time in Tahiti and other parts of French Polynesia. An estimated 28,000 people (about 11 percent of the population of those islands) felt sick enough with the virus to seek medical care. By 2014 it was showing up in several other South Pacific spots: New Caledonia, east of Australia; the Cook Islands; and, early this year, Easter Island, which marked the official arrival of the disease in the Americas, since that remote island is part of Chile.

"Zika showed up in Brazil in May."

The symptoms of the disease itself are relatively mild (fever, rashes and muscle pain for a few days, and with no symptoms in 80 percent of those who contract it). However, the link between Zika and microcephaly – and possibly Guillain-Barre syndrome – make it extremely dangerous.

If it spreads in the United States, as it is expected to do, the Gulf Coast regions may be particularly susceptible because of the warm tropical-like conditions there.

Zika is primarily spread by mosquitoes, but now it is suspected that the disease may also be transmitted through sexual contact.

The link between ecosystem destruction and diseases like Zika

A clear link has been established between the destruction of tropical ecosystems – such as the deforestation of the Brazilian rain forest – and the spread on once-rare diseases such as the Zika virus.

From The Journal of Global Health:

"Forest clearance alters ecosystem dynamics and leads to new breeding habitats for disease vectors, such as mosquitoes, fleas and ticks, by reshaping existing ecosystem boundaries. Such boundaries are often sites of contact between humans and forest pathogens. There is a well-documented, positive association between the increased deforestation of an area and the emergence of zoonotic, vector-borne diseases."

Other human factors, such as the increase in air travel and the effects of overcrowding in cities, also are contributing to the rapid and far-reaching spread of tropical diseases.

As we continue to destroy our natural environment, we can expect to see more of these types of epidemics. Some might say we deserve what we are experiencing now. As the saying goes, "You reap what you sow."

Sources:

WashingtonPost.com

NYTimes.com

NYTimes.com

GHJournal.org
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