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Zika Virus – What Is El Hogar Doing And What Does It Mean For You?

(February 12, 2016)

For all of us at El Hogar, the safety of our students, staff, and visitors is of the utmost importance. The Zika virus continues to make headlines and El Hogar is taking all necessary precautions to ensure that the disease does not spread within our organization.

No staff members, students, or service team members have contracted the disease to date and staff members on the ground in Honduras continue to utilize tactics that are in place to prevent the spread of any mosquito-borne illness, including:

  • Inhibiting standing water that will allow for mosquito reproduction
  • Having screens (windows and doors) in place
  • Ensuring that trash is properly maintained and disposed of
  • Monitoring the health of our students, staff, and visitors

These measures have already been in place to prevent previous outbreaks of disease on our campuses. In addition, the government of Honduras is taking steps to control and eradicate the disease, which include widespread fumigation efforts.

If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant in the near future, we urge you not to travel to our facilities in Honduras at this time. This will ensure your safety and the safety of your unborn child. While we appreciate your desire to travel to El Hogar to work with our students, your health is a priority for us and we look forward to welcoming you at another time.

The school year at El Hogar began at the beginning of February and we have already welcomed our first service team to our main campus in Tegucigalpa. We will continue to open our doors to service teams visiting from North America, but will also continue to monitor the situation to ensure the continued health and safety of our students, staff, and visitors.

If you have any further questions, please email us at info@elhogar.org or call us at 781-729-7600.

Helpful Information

We have included information found on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding how to safeguard yourself when traveling to an area with Zika virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses. (The information below is taken directly from the CDC website – www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/index.html.)

When traveling to countries where Zika virus or other viruses spread by mosquitoes are found, take the following steps:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast-feeding women.
    • Always follow the product label instructions
    • Reapply insect repellent as directed.
    • Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
    • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
  • If you have a baby or child:
    • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.
    • Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs, or
    • Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
    • Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
    • Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
  • Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
    • Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See product information to learn how long the protection will last.
    • If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
    • Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.

We are also including information from the CDC regarding the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of the Zika virus. (The information below is taken directly from the CDC website – http://www.cdc.gov/zika/symptoms/index.html.)

Symptoms

  • About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill (i.e., develop Zika).
  • The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week.
  • The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.
  • People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika.
  • Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week but it can be found longer in some people.

Diagnosis

  • The symptoms of Zika are similar to those of dengue and chikungunya, diseases spread through the same mosquitoes that transmit Zika.
  • See your healthcare provider if you develop the symptoms described above and have visited an area where Zika is found.
  • If you have recently traveled, tell your healthcare provider when and where you traveled.
  • Your healthcare provider may order specialized blood tests to look for Zika or other similar viruses like dengue or chikungunya.

Treatment

  • There is no vaccine to prevent or specific medicine to treat Zika infections.
  • Treat the symptoms:
    • Get plenty of rest.
    • Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
    • Take medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) to relieve fever and pain.
    • Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
    • If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.
  • If you have Zika, prevent mosquito bites for the first week of your illness.
    • During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to a mosquito through mosquito bites.
    • An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people.


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