Over the past couple weeks the mosquito-borne virus known as Zika has become a hot topic, not only in the health world, but in the global media as well. In response to an outbreak of cases across the Americas, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika a global public health emergency. With all the concern surrounding this outbreak, we wanted to share some information about the virus, as well as what Care 2 Communities is doing in response in Haiti.
Zika is spread by mosquitos and, for most who contract the virus, symptoms are usually mild to moderate and can include fever, headache, and muscle and joint pain. There is no vaccine, and no cure, however, eighty percent of people that become infected show no symptoms, and those that do are usually better within a week.
The major concern lies in a possible connection between the Zika virus in pregnant women and microcephaly in newborns. While this connection has yet to be definitively proven, the possibility is strong, and pregnant women in countries with the virus must take extra precautions.
The first cases of Zika were confirmed in Haiti in January and the Haitian Ministry of Health is in the process of developing a coordinated national response view it. While C2C has yet to treat any patients presenting with the virus, we work in close partnership with the Ministry of Health and will adopt national protocols when they are established.
In the meantime, we are committed to helping to protect all pregnant women that are enrolled in C2C’s antenatal care program, over 600 women and growing, by distributing insect repellent and education about the dangers of standing pools of water as mosquito breeding grounds. Additionally, Zika prevention awareness meetings will be incorporated into the weekly Community Health program. C2C’s focus is on promoting messages of prevention to vulnerable people and ensuring that pregnant patients are as protected as possible.