Venezuela: Water Scarcity Contributing to Risk of Zika Virus

Posted on January 31, 2016 • Filed under: Enviromental Issues, Latin America Health, Venezuela, Zika Virus reported the scarcity of water is just one of a long list of headaches for the struggling South American oil giant, but it comes with a particularly nasty risk.

As Venezuelans stockpile water in their homes, health officials warn, they risk fueling an expansion of the mosquito population, and with it the transmission of Zika, the mosquito-borne virus blamed for causing brain damage in babies.

Venezuela, which hardly needed another problem to add to its triple-digit inflation and plunging oil revenues, has registered 4,700 suspected cases of Zika since the virus, which originated in Africa, began sweeping through Latin America last year.

And the official estimate for the number of cases is probably far too low, according to Julio Castro, a doctor and professor at the tropical medicine institute at Central University of Venezuela. He estimates the real number of cases is at least 250,000. The virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same species that carries yellow fever, dengue and chikungunya.And the water crisis increases the risk, said Castro: mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, and the buckets and cisterns Venezuelans are using to ensure their water supply are ideal habitats within which the insects multiply. Read Article

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