By now you have probably heard about the Zika virus, an infection which is spread mainly through mosquito bites, that is currently spreading in Central and South America, as well as Mexico. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Zika virus an international health emergency.
Symptoms of a Zika virus infection can be similar to other infections spread through mosquito bites, like dengue and chikungunya, although Zika symptoms are typically milder. While most people recover from Zika without serious complications, some affected countries have reported an increase in birth defects in babies of mothers who were infected during pregnancy.
Red Cross Societies in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Paraguay, and Dominican Republic are working with government partners to spread information to raise awareness and help with prevention. All National Red Cross Societies in the region are in contact with the IFRC Disaster Management Unit to monitor the situation and provide support where and when it is needed.
The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) is working with the Global Outbreak and Response Network (GOARN), to help the ministries of health in this region strengthen their ability to detect Zika through testing and rapid reporting. The PAHO and WHO are working together to monitor countries with reported cases of Zika.
The Red Cross is preparing staff and volunteers for an increased need and systems to support the response to the outbreak, as well as developing and implementing communication plans for the region’s National Red Cross Societies.
Source: Canadian Red Cross