Zika virus explodes

How we’re responding

The ‘explosion’ of the Zika virus has been declared a global emergency by the World Health Organisation. After spreading to 23 countries and territories the virus has no cure or vaccine - however Plan International is working the region to prevent the spread in order to protect mothers and their babies.

Zika virus has been steadily spreading across the South American region and has now affected 23 countries and territories. It is being linked to hundreds cases of babies born with shrunken heads in Brazil and has caused considerable alarm.

Plan International implements programs in 12 countries in the region and is responding in communities in some of the affected countries. The organisation’s efforts have been centred around public health promotion and mosquito control measures.

“Public awareness activities are key as cases of the Zika virus can be reduced dramatically when people take action in their own communities,” said Ian Wishart, Plan International Australia’s CEO.

Plan International has worked on projects in El Salvador that includes introducing species of fish in sources of water where they feed on mosquito larvae. This helps to contain the population of mosquitoes that spread dengue fever. The same Aedes mosquitoes also transmit the Zika virus.

Fish that have been introduced to water containers that feed on mosquito larvae


  • The zika virus is caused by the bite of an infected mosquito – the same kind of mosquito that transmits dengue.
  • Zika has spread to 23 countries and territories in the Americas.
  • The virus causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads.
  • This puts a burden on entire families, particularly those already vulnerable and experiencing poverty.
  • There is no vaccine or cure.
  • Zika could affect more than 4 million people.
  • Plan International is stopping the spread by raising health awareness, educating communities on controlling mosquitos, running ‘cleaning campaigns’ to prevent spread of rubbish, and introducing fish to water containers that feed on mosquito larvae.
Zika feature graphic


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