The New York Times reported Wednesday that a virus spreading throughout Brazil causing brain damage and malformations in infants could be the result of man-made global warming.
The paper notes that researchers have suggested the Zika virus, which has stoked widespread panic in pregnant women in Mexico and Brazil, is likely the result of an upsurge in the mosquito population brought on by global warming. The carrier of the disease, a mosquito called the Aedes, is believed to carry other viruses, such as Dengue and Yellow fever.
Researchers point to the virus’s ability to hopscotch from one part of the world to another, seemingly at ease, as just one reason why the virus has surged.
“They are particularly worried that the disease is wreaking havoc in a region where the population has not encountered it before, and that climate change may be allowing viruses like Zika to thrive in new domains,” The New York Times claims.
“Some researchers emphasize the role that climate change may play in Zika’s spread,” the article continues, adding: As temperatures get hotter in some regions, researchers argue, “mosquitoes can multiply more quickly, potentially enhancing their collective ability to transmit diseases.”
Brazil has a storied history with pest-born viruses. Malaria rates spiked, for example, in Brazil after the country banned the use of DDT, the insecticide that nearly eradicated the Malaria virus during the 1960s. The number of reported Malaria cases jumped from 52,000 in 1970 to 508,864 in 1987 after Brazil decreased its use of DDT. The country eventually banned its usage outright in 1990.
The Zika virus has already hit several Latin countries hard, and now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning that Zika could come to the United States before long.
The New York Times also reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention blames the virus for an uptick babies born with abnormally small sculls, a condition called microcephaly.
There have been 2,782 cases of microcephaly this year, Brazilian officials state, and 40 of those cases have been fatal. Those who survive, researchers state, can expect to live with severe intellectual disabilities.
Other researchers, the article adds, are not as sure about the link between the virus and mental infirmities. More research needs to be done to establish the link, suggesting that the virus may not be as impactful as some have made out.
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