Zika Virus: Doctors Meet in KC in Response to Global Concern

As part of our continuing response to the Zika virus outbreak in the Americas, HHI has convened a Zika in Haiti Advisory Committee to help guide our actions to keep people healthy in Haiti and beyond.

Zika Advisory committee

Our medical teams in Haiti, along with nearly 100 community health agents, have been busy educating people about Zika, providing maternal health, and issuing insect repellant to pregnant women – all on top of their normal patient-care duties.

We’ve also convened the Zika in Haiti Advisory Committee, a panel of medical experts, which recently met in Kansas City to discuss health concerns related to the growing Zika virus outbreak abroad.

Attending the first meeting:  HHI’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rick Randolph and Haiti Medical Director Dr. Jackenson Davilmar – Dr. Lee Norman, Chief Medical Officer with The University of Kansas Health System –  Epidemiologist Charlie Hunt with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment – and Sarah Brown, PhD, Assistant Director of Clinical Pathology Programs with the St. Louis-based Pathologists Overseas.

As the link between Zika and birth defects grows stronger every day, our doctors, nurses and health workers are taking action to protect people.

Join us.  Support our work.

 

 

 

 

En Haïti, HHI répond à Zika épidémie de virus

Heart to Heart International travaille en Haïti depuis près de six ans afin d’aider les communautés les plus vulnérables et les plus isolées à avoir un meilleur accès aux services de santé.  Le travail effectué par nos médecins et infirmières haïtiens ont déjà habilité HHI à déployer des réponses efficaces contre le virus Zika.
L’un des membres du staff haïtien fournit plus de détails ci-dessous…

Mother and child in Haiti

Une jeune mère et son enfant visitent une clinique de HHI en Haïti. Le virus Zika est à l’origine de nombreuses préoccupations car il pourrait être lié à de rares anomalies congénitales.

 

by INDRA SORIACommunications & Fundraising Officer
Heart to Heart International

Le virus Zika est maintenant en Haïti. Bien que les symptômes qu’il occasionne soient comme une forme atténuée de la dengue, il ne doit pas être pris à la légère. La fièvre Zika ne se contente pas de causer des maux de tête, des douleurs et des éruptions cutanées, mais il est également lié à des anomalies congénitales et pourrait représenter un réel danger pour les femmes enceintes.

Heart to Heart International n’a pas hésité à prendre des initiatives pertinentes lorsque la menace de Zika s’est fait ressentir en Haïti. Fort heureusement, nous avons une grande expérience dans le domaine – nous sommes habitués à traiter des maladies transmises par les moustiques et parmi elles nous pouvons citer le paludisme, la dengue et le chikungunya.

“Les gens se sentent impuissants contre les moustiques,” a déclaré le Dr Jackenson Davilmar, directeur médical de HHI Haïti, “leurs maisons ne sont pas protégées, et dans leurs quartiers il y a beaucoup de choses qui pourraient favoriser la reproduction des moustiques”.

 

Soutenez cette noble cause. Aidez-nous à lutter contre la propagation du Zika



En Haïti, nous avons développé une stratégie de réponse qui vise non seulement à sensibiliser les communautés ciblées contre le virus Zika  et ses risques, mais aussi à commencer la distribution de produits pertinents, permettant d’éviter la maladie. Étant donné l’ampleur du danger présumé pour les femmes enceintes et le risque de microcéphalie de leurs bébés, nous mettons l’accent sur la santé maternelle / infantile tout en continuant à tendre la main à toutes les personnes vulnérables des communautés où nous travaillons.

Dans le cadre de cet effort, nous sommes en train de réaffecter environ 100 agents bien formés, compétents en matière de santé communautaire afin qu’ils puissent nous aider à combattre la fièvre Zika. Ces agents de santé se sont déjà intégrés dans plusieurs collectivités du sud-est d’Haïti et nous permettent donc d’agir rapidement.

Dr. Davilmar nous dit “Nos équipes sont déjà en train d’enseigner aux patients les différentes manières de détruire les sources de moustiques dans leur quartier et de se protéger contre les piqûres de moustiques. Notre personnel médical fournit également des conseils aux femmes qui viennent à nos cliniques, et leur parlent des risques qu’elles peuvent encourir, tels que nous les connaissons déjà, afin qu’elles puissent être mieux informées.”

Nous sommes pratiquement au début de notre phase de réponse. Mais nous sommes bel et bien en train d’affronter le Zika. Ce dernier risque de se propager rapidement à travers la République d’Haïti. HHI pourra heureusement utiliser notre expérience et notre expertise pour déployer des réponses efficaces contre ce nouveau fléau.

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Vous pouvez nous aider à y parvenir. Les dons peuvent être utilisés d’une part pour fournir des soins médicaux et des conseils aux femmes enceintes qui visitent nos différentes cliniques, et d’autre part pour distribuer des produits pertinents afin que beaucoup de gens puissent être protégés des piqûres de moustiques.

lutter contre l’épidémie zika

 
 

In Haiti, HHI responds to Zika virus outbreak

Heart to Heart International has been working in Haiti for six years to increasingly expand health care access to remote and vulnerable people.  The work our Haitian doctors and nurses are already doing has prepared HHI to respond to the Zika virus.  One of our Haiti staff members provides more details below…

Mother and child in Haiti

A young mother and child visit a HHI clinic site in Haiti. The Zika virus is causing alarm that it could be linked to rare birth defects.

 

 

by INDRA SORIACommunications & Fundraising Officer
Heart to Heart International

The Zika virus is now in Haiti. Although the symptoms are like a milder form of dengue fever, it should not be taken lightly.  Zika fever not only cause headaches, pains and rashes, it is also being linked to birth defects and could represent a real danger to pregnant women.

Heart to Heart International did not hesitate to take action when the threat of Zika arose in Haiti. Fortunately, we have great experience in this matter – we are used to treating diseases transmitted by mosquitos like malaria, dengue fever and chikungunya.

“People feel powerless against the mosquitoes,” said Dr. Jackenson Davilmar, HHI Haiti Medical Director, “their houses are not protected, they have lots of breeding sources in their neighborhoods”.

 

Give support. Help us fight the spread of Zika

 

In Haiti, we’ve developed a response strategy to not only educate communities to the virus and its risks, but to begin gathering materials to distribute to vulnerable people. Given the magnitude of the suspected danger for pregnant women and their babies developing microcephaly, we’re focusing on maternal/child health and reaching out to the greater communities in the areas where we work.

As part of this effort, we’re re-assigning approximately 100 trained community health workers to assist in spreading the word about Zika fever.  These health workers are already embedded in communities across the southeast of Haiti allowing us to move quickly.

Dr. Davilmar tells us “our teams are already instructing patients on how to destroy the sources of mosquitoes in their neighborhood and to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Our medical staff is also providing guidance to women who come to our clinics, telling them the risks as we know them, so they can be better informed.”

We are just in the beginning of this response.  But we’re in front of it.  Zika is likely to spread rapidly across Haiti.  HHI is in a good position to use our experience and expertise to respond to this latest outbreak.

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You can help us do this.  Donations can be used to provide medical care and guidance to pregnant woman in our clinics, and can provide the materials needed to protect so many from mosquito bites.

Help fight the spread of Zika

 

Zika Virus Concerns Grow; HHI Already In Action

Once contained to the Eastern Hemisphere, the Zika virus within the past year has spread at an alarming rate into the Americas, primarily in South America and the Caribbean.

The virus has typically caused a minor illness, yet Zika is increasingly being linked to a spike in severe birth defects in Brazil, prompting travel warnings for pregnant women and causing alarm across the global medical community. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Zika virus a global public health emergency.

Zika virus gfx

The Zika virus was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in rhesus monkeys.  Since then, it’s slowly moved across Africa into Asia, spread by two species of mosquitos, the Aedes aegypti mainly and the Aedes albopictus. These mosquitos can also spread dengue, chikungunya, or yellow fever.  They’re widely distributed across North and South America and the Caribbean in tropical and sub-tropical climates.  The albopictus mosquito is also found in more temperate climates, including the eastern half of the US.

During the past year the Zika virus has gone global – spreading across the Pacific Ocean, island hopping, and landing on the South American continent.  From there, it’s spread through the mosquito population, mostly impacting the country of Brazil with an estimated 500,000 to 1.5 million people infected, and Colombia with an estimated 20,000 infected, compared to just a few dozen total across the rest of the Americas.

As Zika spread in Brazil during 2015, the northeast of the country saw an alarming rise in the number of cases of microcephaly, a birth defect that results in infants being born with abnormally small heads and brains.  Health experts are working to determine if indeed there is a link between the arrival of Zika and the rise in reported cases of this rare birth defect.

What HHI is doing now

In the US, HHI’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rick Randolph, along with fellow HHI board member Dr. Lee Norman, senior vice president and chief medical officer of the University of Kansas Hospital, are convening a panel of experts and working with Dr. Duane Spaulding, HHI’s senior medical advisor in Haiti and Dr. Jackenson Davilmar, HHI’s Haiti Medical Director, to help guide HHI’s response to this new viral threat.

In Haiti, our medical teams are already at work expanding our current efforts to combat mosquito-borne illnesses, and now have added a focus on Zika. As there is no vaccine nor cure for Zika, education is key in keeping infections down.  The process takes place in doctor/patient encounters at clinic sites and in community meetings, as we

  • educate residents to Zika fever – the risks, symptoms and treatment
  • guide people in how to implement vector controls – like using treated mosquito nets and repellant, adding screens/mesh on windows and the need to elliminate mosquito breeding sites like standing water.

Additionally, we’re talking with women, before and during pregnancy, about the Zika virus, the recent developments and possible links to birth defects.

Two years ago, Haiti was hit very hard by the arrival of Chikungunya, a debilitating virus spread by mosquitos, which sickened thousands including several HHI staff members. That experience is helping us prepare for this current situation.  Our permanent Haitian medical teams are already experienced in treating patients with mosquito-borne diseases like malaria, dengue fever and chikungunya. Now add Zika.

So far, there have been just a handful of confirmed cases in Haiti, though that’s expected to increase.  Our medical staff is already in front of a potential widespread outbreak. Donate to keep us out front.

ZIKA FAQs

Is there a cure for the Zika virus?

There is no vaccine for the Zika virus.  There is no cure.

If there’s no cure, how do you treat it?

People sick with Zika fever should get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat pain and fever with common medicines. If symptoms worsen, you should seek medical care and advice.

How bad is the Zika virus?

Four out of five people who contract the Zika virus have no symptoms.

About one in five cases results in a minor illness known as Zika fever, which causes symptoms such as a low fever, rash, joint pain, pink eye and headaches.

However…

The Zika virus infection is causing alarm that it may be linked with a few thousand cases of newborn microcephaly by mother-to-child transmission.

I’m pregnant. Should I travel?

First,  consult with your physician.  Second, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says this:

Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who do travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.

How do people catch Zika virus?

People catch Zika by being bitten by an infected Aedes mosquito – the same type of mosquito that spreads dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.

What about in the US? 

According to the top heath official at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a major outbreak of Zika virus in the US is unlikely.

 

FAQs compiled from information provided by the World Health Organization, the CDC & the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).