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.

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.)

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.

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

El uso de anticonceptivos reversibles de larga duración para planificación familiar en el contexto de la epidemia Zika



La Organización Mundial de la Salud ha declarado que el virus de Zika es una emergencia global de salud pública y los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC) concluyeron que el virus de Zika puede causar microcefalia y otros defectos cerebrales en los fetos.