AP Photo/Felipe Dana
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Poor are "most at risk" from Zika, says Christian doctor

Thu 28 Jan 2016
By Hannah Tooley

A Christian doctor has told Premier that the Zika virus is going to impact the poor the hardest. 

Dr Simon Clift, clinician at Interhealth, an international Christian missionary charity that works in health and wellbeing around the world, told Premier's News Hour a lot can be done on a public health level to prevent the spread of the virus. 

Zika virus first detected in 1947
Zika virus causes a rare birth defect: babies have unusually small heads, 32 centimetres or less in circumference
Virus is now in more than 20 countries, mostly in Central and South America

He said: "You can do an awful lot to control mosquito breeding sites, for example. One of the challenges is actually the poor, those that don't have the same resources as many as us, are most at risk because of the poor environments they live in."

The Zika virus causes a rare birth defect which means babies have unusually small heads, 32 centimetres or less in circumference, and it can cause lasting developmental problems.

However, when Zika came to Brazil last year it initially caused little alarm as the virus' symptoms are generally much milder than those of dengue fever.

Pregnant women are being warned not to travel to some parts of Central and South America.

Dr Simon Clift, said: "Can you imagine gathering for church in this country and thinking, 'actually all those expectant mothers there are at risk of just one infected mosquito bite having something that's going to harm their unborn child.'"

AP Photo/Felipe Dana


He added: "I don't think there's any thought that this will come to Britain... the mosquito that spreads the Zika virus is present in much of South America and Central America."

He told Premier that this is difficult to stop because these insects are out in the day time and can bite during the day "particularly between dawn and dusk."

The World Health Organisation has called an urgent meeting next week to decide if the Zika virus should be declared an international emergency.

It expects three to four million cases globally.

Listen to Premier's Antony Bushfield speak to Dr Simon Clift here:

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