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What About Zika? — It is not a concern in Acute Angling’s Amazon Fisheries!

A disease first seen in Uganda in 1940 has suddenly become the latest Media darling … with a raft of misinformation, typical of Media spin … Although Zika is an important concern to pregnant mothers, it is hardly the deadly, world-ending scourge the media makes it out to be.

First of all, the waters we fish are essentially mosquito free.  The fisheries that contain giant peacock bass and our other exotic aquatic targets are all “Blackwater” systems. The very low pH inherent in these waters (highly acidic - typically ranging from 3.5 to 5.5) inhibits successful reproduction and development of aquatic mosquito larva. Blackwater does not harbor mosquitos! 

Secondly, the mosquito species that transmit Zika are not native to the waters we fish. One of the few facts that are clearly known and agreed upon by researchers, doctors and even the news media is that Zika is transmitted via Aedes mosquitos (specifically Aedes Aegyptus and possibly A. albopictus). Thus: Where no Aedes mosquitos are present →  there is no Zika.  Aedes Aegyptus, the Zika vector, is absent from our fisheries!

 ♦ Third, the Zika virus is not present in the regions we fish. Zika has not been encountered everywhere in Brazil - Brazil is as large as the U.S. and its Zika cases are concentrated in the Northeastern and coastal regions of the country and in cities. Just as a comparable mosquito transmitted disease, West Nile Virus, is present in the U.S., it is not found everywhere. An effective way to illustrate the prevalence of Zika is by its correlation to the number of cases of microcephaly reported. Our fisheries are a very long way from the areas most strongly affected.

The map below shows the distribution of microcephaly cases throughout Brazil.

Fourth, even if it were present where we fish, Zika does not pose a significant health risk to the majority of our anglers. The terrible effect of infant microcephaly is only a danger to unborn children. Thus, pregnant women (and perhaps their husbands) are the only group for whom Zika is a real concern. According to CDC, most people infected with Zika will never notice symptoms. Approximately 1 in 5 will develop symptoms including; sudden fever with rash; joint, and body pain; headache; and conjunctivitis. Symptoms are usually mild and last from several days to a week.

 ♦ Fifth, as in the U.S., Brazil is taking aggressive action to halt the spread of Zika. As of this writing, effective mosquito control methods are being deployed throughout Brazil (and the U.S.) in an effort to contain the Zika virus. The U.S. has a significant population of Aedes mosquitos and is a potential site for the spread of the disease, so, just as in Brazil, federal, state and local governments are instituting aggressive mosquito control programs. These actions will certainly diminish the chances of Zika arriving in our Amazon fisheries. (it is already present in Miami, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico).

The map below shows the natural range of Aedes mosquitos in the U.S. 

 ♦ In conclusion, the Zika virus should not scare travelers to the Amazon into staying home. Frankly, the likelihood of encountering Zika on an Acute Angling trip may be lower than the odds of it eventually being contracted in the U.S. As per an earlier update from the Angling Report, with input from Global Rescue, fishermen shouldn't decide against a trip to South America before knowing the facts.

It is not our intent to make blanket statements in this article that cannot be fully supported or may have exceptions, or whose facts could change in the future (This writing is made as of November, 2016). So, keep in mind these important considerations;
 
- Although mosquitos are absent from our fisheries, and it is highly unlikely that you will ever encounter any on our trips, non-Zika mosquitos (mostly Anopheles and Culex) can be found in the neighboring forests and near human habitation.
 - It is impossible to say that Zika could not spread from its current locales. Aedes mosquitos can be carried anywhere by aircraft and vehicles. It is possible they could come to thrive in non-native areas. Of course, people travel as well and can bring the disease with them wherever they go. Aedes and Zika have both been shown to be present in the city of Manaus and a non-confirmed case of microcephaly has recently been reported there.
 - There are questions as to the relationship between Zika and other conditions. Microcephaly occurs in areas that do not have Zika and both microcephaly and Zika can be misdiagnosed. As with several other viral mosquito-borne diseases, a link has also been suggested between Zika and Guillain-Barré syndrome.
 
References;
U.S. Center for Disease control - http://www.cdc.gov/zika/
CARVALHO, R. G., LOURENCO-DE-OLIVEIRA, R, Updating geographical distribution and frequency of Aedes albopictus in Brazil. Mem. Inst. Oswaldo Cruz. 2014, vol.109
The Angling Report - ONLINE EXTRA E-BULLETIN - www.anglingreport.com - February 2016, with an update on the Zika virus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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