Conspiracy-plagued Brazil struggles to control Zika rumors

A female mosquito of the Culicidae family. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The origin of the Zika virus is nothing short of a mystery, and the rumors behind it have been getting more out of hand with each passing day, much to the chagrin of the Brazilian government.

The New York Times asked citizens of Salvador, Brazil where they thought the virus had come from. Some believe it to be an elitist biomedical warfare scheme aimed at depopulating the planet. Others claim it’s a government concoction used to divert attention away from the existence of a cancer treating drug that authorities want to keep hush-hush for their own gain.

Side-view illustration of a baby with microcephaly (left) compared to a baby with a typical head size. Courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

The most recent rumor that has gained traction stemmed from a group of Argentine doctors claiming the WHO-approved larvicide called pyriproxyfen caused Brazil’s recent spike in microcephaly cases, as opposed to the Zika virus. Brazilian state Rio Grande do Sul banned the larvicide from their sources of drinking water over the weekend, but health officials around the world have since debunked this claim.

According to the New York Times article, the widespread mistrust of the government, paired with shareable social media links to websites with “pseudoscientific analysis” allows these conspiracies to spread as fast as the Zika virus itself.




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