Stamford, Conn. – July 25, 2016 – AmeriCares will provide 300,000 cans of OFF!® aerosol repellent to protect low-income and uninsured families from mosquitoes that could be carrying the Zika virus this summer. AmeriCares will deliver the repellent, donated by SC Johnson, free of charge to clinics, health departments and nonprofit partners in the southern United States and Puerto Rico.
“Our Zika response is focused on prevention and education, and mosquito repellent is a critical component,” said AmeriCares Medical Officer Dr. Julie Varughese. “With help from SC Johnson, we are reducing the risk of transmission for thousands of families in high-risk communities.”
This latest donation is in addition to 50,000 units of OFF!® personal repellent AmeriCares distributed in the U.S. and El Salvador this spring. The product donations are part of SC Johnson’s commitment to provide $15 million over the next year to help protect families from the Zika virus.
Throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, where infection rates are highest, AmeriCares is working to ensure hospitals and clinics have the medicine and supplies to address the intensifying health crisis and provide the best possible care. In El Salvador, where AmeriCares operates a primary care clinic that serves 60,000 patients a year including prenatal patients, the organization is on the frontlines of the Zika crisis, caring for patients with suspected infections and educating patients on how to prevent infection. AmeriCares is also supporting vector-control efforts in El Salvador, as well as providing protection kits with repellent, bed nets and educational materials to pregnant women in Colombia, El Salvador and Haiti.
Pregnant women face the greatest risk from the mosquito-borne virus; Zika infections have been linked to microcephaly, a condition that affects brain development in newborns. The World Health Organization has said women in countries where the virus is circulating should consult with their physicians before becoming pregnant because of the risk of irreversible birth defects.
More than 1,400 people in the continental U.S. and more than 3,700 people in Puerto Rico have been infected with Zika, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly all of the cases in the continental U.S. have been in travelers returning from countries with active transmission. The predominant mosquito that can carry the disease has been found in southern states.
AmeriCares has been aiding survivors of natural disasters, political conflict and extreme poverty around the world for nearly 40 years, saving lives and building healthier futures for people in crisis. On average, AmeriCares responds to 30 natural disasters and humanitarian crises worldwide each year, including disease outbreaks and health emergencies. Over the years, AmeriCares has responded to West Nile virus in the United States, chikungunya in Latin America and the Caribbean, cholera outbreaks in Haiti, Sierra Leone and Tanzania, and, most recently, the West Africa Ebola epidemic.