As you may have seen in the news, the mosquito-born virus, Zika, has spread rapidly throughout the Southern Hemisphere. According to the CDC, the Zika virus is transmitted by the bite of the Aedes mosquito, the same mosquitoes that spread Chikungunya and dengue. The disease can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy, and there are concerns that the rising number of cases of microcephaly found in infants can be linked to Zika though this has yet to be confirmed.
Prevention is simple and effective: wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, stay in places with air conditioning or screened windows, use insect repellent, and treat clothing and bedding with permethrin if available. If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, the CDC recommends avoiding travel to areas where Zika is present.
Though these basic prevention tactics seem simple to us, this is not the case in the garbage dump communities we serve.
Heaps of garbage, piles of discarded tires filled with water, and areas of undrained water are breeding grounds for the Aedes mosquito and the everyday workplace of the people we serve. Forget air conditioning or screens on windows, the homes of garbage dump community dwellers have incomplete walls, dirt floors, and no way to drain water. Making less than a couple of dollars a day, they purchase food for their families first rather than buying insect repellent. They are the last to know about the spread and effects of Zika, and going to seek treatment for the virus is expensive and impossible for many.
Through our medical services and medical missions, seeing a doctor and receiving treatment and prevention information is possible.
Please consider contributing to our health initiatives or volunteering for the next medical mission. You can make a lasting impact for families living in garbage dump communities who are the last to know about Zika.