When the Zika virus became a widespread epidemic in early 2016, global health officials anticipated with trepidation a Zika explosion in the poor Caribbean country of Haiti. But these fears have yet to materialize. Although Haiti registered 300 infections a week back in February, there are now only 30. And there have been no cases of microcephaly, the congenital birth defect caused by abnormal fetal development. However, this does not mean that Haiti is on the road to being Zika-free, or that the virus has declined. In fact, it is more likely that Zika cases simply go unreported. Haitians in rural areas do not know that Zika exists. If they do, they are unlikely to seek medical attention for the low-grade fever, skin rash and joint pain that most people with the virus experience. Despite these concerns, Jean-Luc Poncelet, the Pan American Health Organization’s director for Haiti, believes that “it would be a mistake to invest in…[a] detailed epidemiological study that could give a more accurate sense of Zika’s spread.” If Haiti’s limited resources are used to combat Zika, there will not be the resources to treat malaria or cholera, he explained.
For more information, read the full Washington Post article here.