As of February 1, 2016 WHO Declares Zika Virus an International Health Emergency
HRI is working to get out in front of the spread of the outbreak in Haiti and Guatemala.
The Zika virus, transmitted by mosquitoes, was detected last May in Brazil and has now spread to more than 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Projections indicate as many as 4 million people could be infected this year.
While most people suffer only minor effects when infected by the virus, i.e. fever, rash, conjunctivitis, it is potentially extremely damaging to unborn babies, particularly during the first trimester of pregnancy. The main worry is over the virus’s possible link to microcephaly, a condition that causes babies to be born with brain damage and unusually small heads.
At a news conference in Geneva on February 1st, Dr. Margaret Chan, the director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), said that clusters of microcephaly in regions with Zika cases “constitute an extraordinary event and a public health threat to other parts of the world.”
In an effort to minimize the impact of this outbreak in Haiti and Guatemala quickly and effectively, HRI is mobilizing our staff in both countries to immediately communicate crucial information, particularly to women of childbearing age, on ways they can protect themselves and their unborn babies.
Actions that will provide immediate mitigation of the dangers include:
- The use of long sleeves, long pants, and insect repellant.
- Massive clean up of areas where these mosquitos breed; namely, plastic, rubber and other trash strewn haphazardly.
- Improved access to reproductive health information and pre-natal care.
- Use of mosquito nets.
Please help us to get the word out – together we can help STOP THE ZIKA VIRUS in it’s tracks if we act soon. With just a small donation we can save the lives and futures of countless children!