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20 Jun 2016 Zika Virus Information

The threat of the Zika virus, as well as other mosquito borne and non-mosquito borne illnesses in Brazil, Ecuador, India, and Senegal continue to be monitored by Global Citizen Year.   Regarding the Zika virus, at this point, there will be no programmatic changes in our operating countries due to the level of risk.  Global Citizen Year will continue to closely assess the spread of the virus and will respond according to information provided by medical experts, including the CDC and the WHO, as well as our in-country insurance provider and colleagues in the industry.

For up to date information regarding Zika virus, please refer to the CDC webpage: http://www.cdc.gov/media/dpk/2016/dpk-zika-virus.html

The Zika virus is an illness transmitted to people through a mosquito bite, blood transfusion, and/or sexual contact with an infected male.  The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.  Current concern is focused on women who become infected while pregnant.

The Zika virus has varying levels of risk exposure in our operating areas.  While the Zika virus is endemic to Senegal- the risk is low to travelers.  In both Brazil and Ecuador, there is a Level 2 Alert that recommends a practice of enhanced precautions. These precautions are practiced in areas where these mosquitoes live- at elevations below 6,500 feet (2,000 meters).  Thus, within Ecuador, the predominant region that has been impacted by Zika, is the coastal area where Global Citizen Year does not operate. In the province of Napo (Amazon), the Zika virus is being monitored.  In Brazil, Global Citizen Year has programming in the southern region of Florianopolis where few cases of Zika have been reported, unlike the higher incidence of exposure to the north in Rio and beyond.  

In order to address the risk of the Zika virus and other mosquito- borne viruses, Global Citizen Year, where necessary, has established preventative measures in order to combat the health risk to Fellows. In regions where there is a threat of mosquito borne illnesses, physical barriers such as screened windows are established in homestay windows and Fellows are expected to sleep in mosquito nets.  Additionally, host families are trained to reduce the exposure of standing water, wherever possible. Furthermore, Fellows are trained and expected to take personal precautionary measures to reduce exposure to mosquito bites by wearing long sleeved shirts and pants, when possible, and applying insect repellent consistently.  Staff and program policies further educate and reinforce the expectations associated with promoting health and minimizing risk exposure to mosquitos.  Fellows are also trained on identifying the symptoms associated with Zika virus and required to reach out to staff to seek medical care.  

Global Citizen Year is committed to promoting the health of all its participants, staff and partners.  As with all health risks, Global Citizen Year will monitor and review information and inform Fellows, parents, staff and partners of any changes in programming in response to health management.    

For further questions or concerns, please contact info@globalcitizenyear.org.

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