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What you need to know about the Zika virus

Fumigators work at the SOS Children’s Village Oberá in Misiones, Argentina, to combat mosquitos that carries the Zika virus
Fumigators work at the SOS Children’s Village Oberá in Misiones, Argentina, to combat mosquitos that carries the Zika virus

SOS Children is protecting vulnerable children from the Zika virus with prevention and control programmes in affected countries.

The Zika virus is a disease that is transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitos. The pandemic is sweeping the Americas, but it is also present in Africa, Asia and the South Pacific. The World Health Organisation has declared a public health emergency in response to the recent outbreak across Latin America.

No children in SOS Children's care have been affected by the virus. Three SOS mothers and one aunt at our Villages in Cape Verde were treated and have returned to work.

“In SOS Children’s Village in São Domingos, the health department did the necessary spraying against mosquitos, and the same will be done next week in Assomada. We are following measures prescribed by health authorities,” explains Dionisio Simoes Pereira, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Cape Verde

There is a suspected link between the mosquito-borne disease and abnormal brain development in infants. Since the start of the Zika outbreak, over 4,700 infants in Brazil have been born with microcephaly, a birth defect in which an infant is born with a significantly small head. However, the WHO warns that the link between the Zika virus and microcephaly is not scientifically proven, and it will release more information in the coming weeks.

What SOS Children is doing 

SOS programmes throughout Latin and South America are promoting prevention and control measures to keep children safe. No cure or vaccination currently exists for the Zika virus. Prevention and control relies on reducing mosquito breeding sites and reducing mosquito-human contact.

Aedes aegypti  mosquito
The Zika virus is transmitted to humans by the aedes aegypti mosquito
  • In Colombia, all SOS mothers are encouraged to apply mosquito repellent on their children. In addition, chlorine is being used to wash drinking water storage tanks.
  • In Ecuador, programmes are taking preventive action, especially in the most affected provinces: Manabí, Esmeraldas and Guayas. Every week, the houses in the Villages are fulminated, insect repellent is distributed, and breeding sites are being removed. SOS Children’s Villages Ecuador is requesting that the Ministry of Health promote local information talks.
  • In Paraguay, SOS Children’s Village is preventing the Zika virus by using mosquito repellent on children, keeping lawns short, and emptying open sources of water.
  • At the Oberá Village in Argentina, located close to the Brazilian border, all houses have been fumigated. Children and young people have undergone training and have started providing prevention awareness in the community with informational brochures.

Symptoms and who is at risk:

The Zika virus was first identified in Uganda in the mid-twentieth century in rhesus monkeys. Anyone can contract the Zika virus, including unborn babies. The mosquito-borne virus can be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus. If you are pregant or planning to become pregant, take precaustions to keep yourself and your fetus safe.

Wearing mosquito repellent and long layers, sleeping under mosquito nets, having window screens on your home, and reducing open sources of water will help reduce your chances of transmission. As mentioned above, no cure or vaccination currently exists for the Zika virus. The following symptoms typically last two to seven days:

  • Mild fever
  • Skin rash
  • red or sore eyes
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Headaches 

SOS Children has been working to protect vulnerable children since 1949. Learn how you can help us protect even more children. 

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