Stories about Zika virus have taken the world by storm.
In less than a year, Zika virus has surged across the Americas with shocking speed. Global concern is growing with each new report of Zika-related health complications, and it’s easy to wonder—what can I possibly do?
As the disease progresses, we want to keep you informed—and offer some practical ways that you can get involved.
Here’s what you need to know:
What is Zika virus?
Zika is a disease caused by the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which usually spreads in tropical regions with large mosquito populations. Recently, the World Health Organization declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern because of the increase in birth and neurological disorders in areas where Zika is widespread.
Is it serious?
Only one in five people infected with Zika virus actually get sick. The illness is usually mild, with symptoms like fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes), and usually only lasts two to seven days. However, there is growing concern that Zika virus may be linked to a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly, and Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder.
How can Zika be prevented and treated?
Right now, there is no vaccine to prevent Zika, and no treatment once someone is infected. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the best way to prevent the spread of Zika is to protect against mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved clothing, using insect repellant, sleeping under mosquito netting, and emptying any standing water near the home.
How is Zika affecting World Help programs?
World Help has partnerships and sponsorship programs in 4 of the 26 countries with active Zika virus transmission. Our partner in Honduras recently told us, “We have felt helpless in such a situation of disease outbreaks. There is a significant percentage of children and families infected in the area. In homes, children do not have mosquito nets.” Thankfully, none of our sponsored children have contracted a severe case of Zika. But fear is common among our partners—with so many unknowns surrounding Zika virus, especially for pregnant women, many are fearful of infection.
What is World Help’s response?
Mosquito nets are the first line of defense in preventing infection, and they have already proved to be effective in reducing child mortality by up to 20 percent throughout Malaria-infected regions. Providing mosquito nets will enable our partners to offer protection to sponsored children and families in their community, while sharing the eternal hope of Jesus Christ. During this time of uncertainty and fear, we have the opportunity to provide safety and peace of mind to women, children, and families.
How can I help?
The first thing you can do is pray. Pray for our partners, sponsorship staff, and the children in our sponsorship programs. Pray for mothers who are pregnant and vulnerable to infection. Pray for physical and spiritual healing, and that our partners would shine the light of Jesus Christ in the midst of these frightening circumstances.
The second way you can help is by providing mosquito nets. This simple preventative measure will offer safety and peace of mind, and will help families and communities fight against the spread of Zika. Most importantly, mosquito nets give our partners a critical tool for sharing the eternal hope of Jesus Christ.
The future of Zika virus is unpredictable. Although sickness caused by Zika is normally short and mild, we don’t fully understand the health and safety implications for Zika virus in the future. What better way to reach out to our brothers and sisters in need than providing tangible, physical hope? For only $25, you can give one mosquito net. With so many unknowns, we must stand up and show the love of Christ in action—today.