Photo by Dr. Karen Orellana

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 the Zika virus epidemic emergency response, ASSIST is providing intensive assistance to the Ministry of Health in five countries – the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Activities supported include: conducting a baseline assessment of the quality of Zika-related care, revising Zika-related clinical guidelines, training health care providers on counseling skills, improving Zika-related clinical processes, conducting face-to-face and virtual courses on Zika-related health care, implementing a Zika quality improvement program, and cultivating a Zika community of practice to rapidly scale up learning across all affected countries.

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.

WEBINAR: Servicios de anticoncepción en el contexto Zika en América Latina ¿a la altura del reto? (in SPANISH)


Los servicios de anticoncepción, cuando son accesibles y de calidad, evitan que las mujeres con riesgo de tener Zika, que no deseen embarazarse, corran el riesgo de tener hijos con síndrome congénito fetal.

Este seminario web discutirá los retos y logros que viven los servicios de salud públicos de la Región de América Latina y el Caribe sobre la anticoncepción, con énfasis en la demanda en el contexto de la epidemia Zika, y las respuestas de los países y comunidad internacional.

LA ESTELA DEL ZIKA: Fortalecimiento de las habilidades de los trabajadores de primera línea en Honduras

Maria Beatrice Spadacini

Senior Communications Advisor, Bureau for Global Health, USAID

En su camino a la sala de partos, Ana Gómez descubrió que estaba infectada con el virus del Zika y que su hijo probablemente nacería con microcefalia. Ella no sabía lo que significaba esto, pero temía que su bebé no sobreviviera.

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.

USAID ASSIST Project: Overview of Zika Activities

As part of the Zika virus epidemic emergency response, ASSIST is providing intensive assistance to the Ministries of Health and Social Security Administrations in several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Activities supported include:

WEBINAR: Pyscho-emotional and pyscho-social support in the context of Zika (in SPANISH)

In the context of the Zika epidemic, many women and their families feel great fear, uncertainty, and stress during pregnancy because of the worry that their baby could be born with microcephaly or suffer other consequences of the virus.

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.)

In English

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)

En español

SEMINARIO WEB: Tamizaje del síndrome congénito fetal en el recién nacido


La Infección por el Virus del Zika durante el embarazo puede repercutir en el feto ocasionando múltiples problemas que se resumen en el llamado Síndrome Congénito del Recién Nacido.