Dangerous Conspiracy Theories About the Zika Virus

Dangerous Conspiracy Theories About the Zika Virus

The New Yorker Cites Annenberg Public Policy Center Zika Virus Data; Study Interviews Conducted by SSRS

Late last month, Margaret Chan, the director of the World Health Organization, announced that the Zika-virus outbreak in Latin America had moved from being a “mild threat to one of alarming proportions.” This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made that threat palpable. The agency said it was investigating fourteen reports in which the virus appears to have been transmitted through sex, in addition to being spread by mosquitoes.

In most cases, Zika is so mild that people can become infected and never know it. But the virus has also been associated with an otherwise-rare birth defect in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains, a condition known as microcephaly. It is also suspected of having caused Guillain-Barré syndrome, which leads to (an almost always temporary) paralysis. It is too soon for epidemiologists to have proven those links beyond question, but few, if any, experts doubt them.