Zika Virus Response


International Medical Corps stands ready to assist Zika affected countries

Zika virus disease first emerged 50 years ago in monkeys found in Uganda’s Zika forest. The first human cases of the mosquito-borne disease were reported in 1952. Since then outbreaks have occurred in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Islands.

In February 2016, the World Health Organization designated the Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern, estimating up to 4 million people could be infected by year’s end. Since May 2016, almost 60 countries have reported local Zika transmissions. Though not yet scientifically proven, experts strongly suspect a causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly - a birth defect in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age. With the possible risk to babies, the most recent CDC reports advise both men and women to refrain from sex or use proper protection throughout the duration of a pregnancy. So far an increase in microcephaly cases and other neonatal malformations has only been reported in Brazil and French Polynesia. A coordinated international response is needed to minimize the threat in affected countries and reduce the risk of further international spread.


  • The World Health Organization has declared Zika virus, a disease spread by mosquitoes, a global public health emergency.
  • Experts strongly suspect a link between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly.
  • Since May 2016 more than 39 countries in the Americas have reported continuing and/or Zika virus infections.
  • As many as 3-4 million people could be infected by the end of 2016.


International Medical Corps teams promote Zika prevention messaging in local communities to stop outbreaks

As a steering committee member of the No More Epidemics Campaign, International Medical Corps is leveraging its experience fighting Ebola in West Africa to recommend a swift, science-driven response to the Zika virus through government actions aligned with community needs. Like the Ebola epidemic, the Zika outbreak highlights the need for a more comprehensive global approach to infectious diseases—including building stronger health care systems and implementing measures to improve a country’s capacity to detect, assess and report public health events.

To help prevent the spread of Zika in Haiti, International Medical Corps is working side-by-side with the Ministry of Health and Population (MSPP) and local health entities in a joint effort to sensitize the public on growing health concerns. Through two mobile medical units, health promotion teams are focusing primarily in Northern Haiti, which has the second-highest incidence of suspected cases of Zika virus in Haiti. While simultaneously responding to cholera outbreaks, International Medical Corps is incorporating mosquito-bite prevention messages into ongoing public health messaging in Haiti. Leveraging strong local relationships, on average, International Medical Corps messaging reaches 3,500 community members each month. We continue to meet weekly with the MSPP to assess needs and develop strategies.

In addition, our experts are meeting with local stakeholders and response partners to identify potential gaps in preparedness and prevention that we might be able to fill in Puerto Rico, where 1 in 5 people could potentially become infected. International Medical Corps continues to actively monitor the situation, and we stand ready to assist if needed.

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