Your submission is now in Draft mode.

Once it's ready, please submit your draft for review by our team of Community Moderators. Thank you!

Your essay is now in Draft mode

Once you submit your essay, it will be available to judges for review and you can no longer edit it. Please make sure to review eligibility criteria before submitting. Thank you!

Submit Essay

Once you submit your essay, you can no longer edit it.


This content now needs to be approved by community moderators.


This essay was submitted and is waiting for review by judges.

By 2017, will research definitively show Zika virus to be the direct cause of microencephaly in developing humans?


On February 1st of 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially recognized a public health emergency taking place in Central and South America: a sudden increase in cases of a mosquito-borne and sexually tansmitted disease known as Zika virus. This particular outbreak indicated a direct correlation with the incidence of microencephaly in children born to infected mothers. As of writing, Zika cases have been reported in dozens of countries in North and South America and the Caribbean.

A growing focus on the situation has also sparked significant controversy surrounding the methods being employed to combat the disease, specifically the genetic modification of infection vectors such as Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, to produce sterile offspring. The intent of this effort would be to effectively reduce the A. aegypti population and thus the potential for spreading the virus.

Among the numerous (if somewhat unlikely) alternate explanations for the Zika outbreak, there appears to be consensus in scientific community on one point: the absence of direct evidence linking Zika to microencephaly. While some studies have shown that Zika is capable of infecting neural tissue, it is still speculative whether or not it can pass the blood-brain barrier. Due to the recent rise in popularity of the subject, researchers will undoubtedly begin digging deeper into the pathology of Zika virus and its close cousins West Nile and Dengue.

By January 1st, 2017, will the CDC report Zika virus to be the the known (or with words which capture a high degree of certainty) direct cause of microencephaly in developing humans?

Make a Prediction


Note: this question resolved before its original close time. All of your predictions came after the resolution, so you did not gain (or lose) any points for it.

Note: this question resolved before its original close time. You earned points up until the question resolution, but not afterwards.

This question is not yet open for predictions.

Current points depend on your prediction, the community's prediction, and the result. Your total earned points are averaged over the lifetime of the question, so predict early to get as many points as possible! See the FAQ.

Metaculus help: Predicting

Predictions are the heart of Metaculus. Predicting is how you contribute to the wisdom of the crowd, and how you earn points and build up your personal Metaculus track record.

The basics of predicting are very simple: move the slider to best match the likelihood of the outcome, and click predict. You can predict as often as you want, and you're encouraged to change your mind when new information becomes available.

The displayed score is split into current points and total points. Current points show how much your prediction is worth now, whereas total points show the combined worth of all of your predictions over the lifetime of the question. The scoring details are available on the FAQ.

Thanks for predicting!

Your prediction has been recorded anonymously.

Want to track your predictions, earn points, and hone your forecasting skills? Create an account today!

Track your predictions
Continue exploring the site