Zika Virus Explained
Zika virus is an arbovirus, meaning that it is an insect vector-borne disease, most commonly transmitted through Aedes (aegypti and albopictus) mosquitoes. Zika virus can also be transmitted through exposure to infected blood or sexual contact. Less commonly, Zika can be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy.
Zika is endemic to parts of Africa and Asia, but over in recent months, between 400,000 and 1.3 million cases have been discovered across South, Central, and North America, where the disease was previously unknown.
The number of cases and the locations of the outbreak qualifies Zika as an international health emergency.
Direct Relief’s Response
Because no Zika vaccine exists yet, the response to the outbreak involves stepped-up public health efforts, including vector control of mosquitoes, public awareness, staff training, and development of treatment protocols.
Direct Relief is in close communication with public health officials and facilities in 14 countries throughout the Caribbean, Latin America, and the United States.
To date, Direct Relief has fulfilled requests for contraceptives, pain medication, and insect repellent in the U.S., Haiti, The Dominican Republic, Argentina, Venezuela, Honduras, Guatemala, Peru, Paraguay and Micronesia.
Direct Relief is also partnering with Greenlid Envirosciences to equip at-risk communities in the U.S. and internationally with Biotraps — biodegradable mosquito traps designed to target and eliminate female mosquitoes and their larvae.
For every Biotrap purchased, Greenlid Envirosciences will donate one Biotrap to help stop the spread of Zika Virus and other mosquito-born illnesses. Additional information on Biotrap and this initiative is available on Greenlid’s Indiegogo campaign page.
Direct Relief’s Zika Fund
Anticipating further requests, Direct Relief has established a Zika Fund with an initial commitment of $100,000, towards which private contributions may be designated. 100% of contributions to the fund will be used to support healthcare facilities in Zika-affected areas, with particular focus on the following measures:
Zika funds will be used to boost support to partner organizations providing care in Zika-affected areas, with particular emphasis on the following measures:
- Providing and pre- and postnatal resources needed for safe deliveries and to support care for newborns.
- Distributing requested supplies such as insect repellent, IV solutions, medications for fever reduction and pain relief, and contraceptives.
- Providing general in-kind and financial support to alleviating the strain placed on local health facilities by a surge in patients.
To support Direct Relief’s efforts to stop the Zika Virus, click here.
Zika Virus News
‘Those same risk factors that we saw in 2016 are also still present today,’ said the executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District. Among the factors for a concern that the Zika virus will return: The presence of Aedes aegypti, the species of mosquito that can transmit the virus and the risk of tourists or Florida residents bringing the virus with them from countries where it is more prevalent.
The number of new Zika cases in Puerto Rico has dropped dramatically in recent weeks, yet health officials worry the full effect of the outbreak on the island may not be known for months or years to come. Puerto Rico has confirmed more than 34,000 Zika infections since the virus was first detected on the island in November 2015.