AP Photo/Felipe Dana
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Catholic charity warns Haiti at risk of Zika

Wed 23 Mar 2016
By Hannah Tooley

A Catholic charity has warned that Haiti is in danger of being overrun by Zika virus due to poor living conditions in the country. 

The Catholic Mission says that pools of stagnant water combined with poor living conditions are creating a breeding ground for mosquitos that can carry the virus that causes birth defects in babies.

Dianne Jean-Francois, a physician for the Catholic Medical Mission, working in southern Haiti told The Tablet: "The lack of education, information, the number of people living [in slums] and the degree of stagnant water all over the place is the ideal place for the mosquito to breed, increasing the likelihood of the transmission of Zika."

The impoverished Caribbean island is at risk of the Zika virus spreading rapidly according to the charity as well as the US Centre for Disease Control.

Haiti is still recovering from the effects of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake which struck in January 2010, as well as an outbreak of cholera in the nation; more than 200,000 people were killed and over a million were left homeless.

AP Photo/Felipe Dana


Dianne Jean-Francois also said that grass-roots fumigation efforts are being promoted to try to reduce the mosquito population, but she admitted it will "be very difficult" to stop Zika spreading.

Haiti is one of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and Haiti's Ministry of Public Health has reported an accelerated increase in the number of Zika cases being reported.

The Tablet has reported that the number of confirmed cases rose from 96 to 329 in three weeks.

The World Health Organisation has declared the spread of the Zika virus a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern".

It has warned that those infected do not have clear symptoms and that it is likely that in rural communities, like in Haiti, the virus is likely to be under reported.

As of yet there is no vaccine to prevent the spread of Zika virus.

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