February 24, 2016
At least 80 Zika infections linked to travel have been confirmed in the continental United States, and that number is growing. With 40 million people traveling between the U.S. and affected countries each year, it’s important to know about this emerging risk. Here are the top 5 things your ministry should know about Zika.
1. Zika may cause birth defects. Zika causes mild symptoms in healthy people, but infection with Zika during pregnancy can cause babies to be born with damaged brains. Pregnant women and their partners should take enhanced precautions if they travel to areas where Zika is spreading. Consider buying supplemental medical insurance for mission travel.
2. It can cause paralysis. Scientists believe that Zika can trigger Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare disorder that causes temporary paralysis. Travelers who develop Zika symptoms should be tested for the virus.
3. Travelers are at risk. Anyone from your ministry traveling to an outbreak area should avoid mosquito bites. Check the CDC’s website for current travel notices on affected countries.
4. Virus expected in America. So far, Zika isn’t spreading locally, but that could change with warmer weather. The type of mosquitoes that transmit Zika live throughout the United States. If Zika becomes an issue locally, your ministry may need to modify outdoor activities or move them indoors to guard against mosquito bites.
5. Stay informed. Researchers are learning more about this disease daily. Protect your ministry and its people by following the most current recommendations.
Centers for Disease Control http://www.cdc.gov/zika/
World Health Organization http://www.who.int/emergencies/zika-virus/en/
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