Zika

The recent emergence and rapid spread of the Zika virus presents a grave, new challenge for health systems and practitioners across the Zika-affected regions, as they work to address the unique health needs and concerns of individuals and families affected by the epidemic.

Zika is spread primarily through the Aedes mosquito – the same species of mosquito that spreads dengue and chikungunya – but the virus can also be transmitted via sexual contact. Common symptoms of Zika for an otherwise healthy adult include mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache, lasting up to a week.However, most concerning for health workers is that Zika is passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus during pregnancy.

While the symptoms for an adult are mild, Zika infection during pregnancy can have grave consequences for the growing fetus. Zika infection during pregnancy has been linked to an increase in birth defects across the Zika-affected regions, particularly a serious birth defect called microcephaly, which results in unusually small heads and brain damage in newborns.

As part of USAID’s Zika response, ASSIST has been implementing health systems strengthening efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean to provide targeted support to health systems affected by the Zika virus. ASSIST is working to improve the capacity of Zika-related health services to deliver consistent, evidence-based, respectful, high-quality care—with a focus on pregnant women, newborns, and women of reproductive age.

To learn more about our work improving care in Zika, read this overview and explore our Zika resources and publications below.

In addition to the resources provided here, ASSIST maintains a website in Spanish with exclusively Zika-related content: www.maternoinfantil.org/zika.

The Continuum of Care for Zika

Alison Lucas

Knowledge Management and Communications Specialist, USAID ASSIST Project/URC

Jorge Hermida

Senior QI Advisor, MNCH, and Latin America Regional Director, USAID ASSIST Project/URC

In 2016, scientists confirmed the link between Zika infection during pregnancy and severe birth complications, most notably microcephaly.  Thankfully, cases of Zika infection in Latin America and the Caribbean dropped dramatically in 2017; however, Zika is unlikely to ever disappear completely from the region.

Our “Best 9” stories in 2017

Vicky Ramirez

Consultant, USAID ASSIST Project/URC

Looking back, 2017 was a great year for us at ASSIST. In 2017, we were featured in USAID’s Exposure; we collaborated with a number of partners to publish ICHC Blog Series, which was cross-posted on The Huffington Post; and we ran a blog series in honor of Health Worker Week. After our resources page, our blog was the most visited page on our website. In case you missed some of these highlights, we’ve put together our “Best 9” stories. These posts illustrate the stories behind the great work employed by our country teams, partners, and individuals. Let us know which story you loved the most!

How a rash can turn into something so devastating: Zika’s effects on babies

Vicky Ramirez

Consultant, USAID ASSIST Project/URC

Andrew Gall

Improvement Advisor, USAID ASSIST Project/URC

In 4 out of 5 people, a Zika infection will have zero signs. In some, it can trigger mild symptoms such as a rash and conjunctivitis, but for a fetus—it can affect him for the rest of his life.

Proveedores de salud frente al Síndrome Congénito del Zika

Felicia Girón

Technical Advisor, El Salvador, USAID ASSIST Project

(Una doctora platica con una nueva madre sobre Zika. Foto por Mélida Chaguaceda.)

Health workers come face-to-face with Zika Congenital Syndrome

Felicia Girón

Technical Advisor, El Salvador, USAID ASSIST Project

Translation by: Vicky Ramirez

(A doctor speaks with a new mother about Zika. Photo by Mélida Chaguaceda)

What we learned this Valentine’s Day

Vicky Ramirez

Consultant, USAID ASSIST Project/URC

K4Health & IPPF Host Tweet Chat on the Sexual Transmission of the Zika Virus

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