Citing new research in its battle against the mosquito-borne disease and recent outbreak of microcephaly, on Saturday the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul halted the practice of adding a larvicide to drinking water.
Calling the suspension of the chemical just a “suspicion,” the Rio Grande do Sul Secretary of Health Joao Gabbardo dos Reis addressed the issue candidly. Though no solid conclusive scientific evidence proves that Zika virus comes from mosquito bites or larvicide-laced drinking water, something is causing the tragic microcephaly and risking widespread disaster.
“We cannot run that risk,” Secretary of Health Joao Gabbardo dos Reis summarizes.
Microcephaly manifests as newborns with tiny heads. Marketed as SumiLarv by Sumitomo Chemical, pyriproxyfen was approved by the US EPA in 2001 and the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2004. Sumitomo is a collaborative partner with Monsanto in addressing pest problems with chemical agents.
Several groups of doctors and researchers came forward with data identifying strong connections between the incidence of microcephaly and introduction of this larvicide that is designed to arrest growth in mosquito populations at the larval stage.
In a report released last week, the Physicians in Crop-Sprayed Towns (PCST) revealed the history of numerous previous outbreaks of Zika with zero microcephaly. However, the use of the larvicide pyriproxyfen in drinking water coincides with the beginning of the recent epidemic of birth defects.
“Previous Zika epidemics did not cause birth defects in newborns, despite infecting 75 percent of the population in those countries,” one Argentine report said. “Also, in other countries such as Colombia there are no records of microcephaly; however, there are plenty of Zika cases.”
Another group of researchers confirms the findings of the physician group, the Brazilian Collective Health Association (Abrasco): “In the area where most sick persons live, a chemical larvicide producing malformations in mosquitoes has been applied for 18 months, and that this poison (pyriproxyfen) is applied by the State on drinking water used by the affected population,” the report concludes.
Brazil is facing a dilemma and a disaster. Many cases of microcephaly are being found in areas where pyriproxyfen is added to drinking water, and is, according to their report, “not a coincidence.”
The reports all refer to facts that no cases of microcephaly are reported from other countries affected by Zika, such as Colombia, an adjacent country which has the highest incidence of the mosquito-borne virus after Brazil.