The president of Venezuela has confirmed that three Venezuelans have died as a result of complications related to the Zika virus. The release of this information comes on the tail of allegations that the Venezuelan government has been underreporting the number of people infected with the virus.
Channel NewsAsia reports that President Nicolas Maduro’s administration has come under fire in recent years for suppressing statistics about the spread of other mosquito-borne illnesses, such as dengue and chikungunya. These diseases are carried by the same classification of mosquito as the Zika virus.
According to CNN, a Venezuelan state-run newspaper has confirmed only 319 cases of the Zika virus. However, Venezuelan officials have announced about 4,700 cases of the virus in the country.
Former Health Secretary Dr. Felix Oletta stands by the assertion that the numbers being released are far too low to be realistic.
“We have a Zika epidemic that has not been acknowledged by the government. The country’s current health secretary just said that there are some 4,700 probable cases of Zika. In reality that number needs to be multiplied by 100 in order to come closer to the real number of infected people.”
The illness became globally concerning after being linked to a large number of babies being born with microcephaly. Microcephaly is a neurological disorder that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and developmental disorders, sometimes severe or fatal.
There has been an uptick in the number of babies being born with microcephaly in Latin America as a result of more mothers becoming infected with Zika.
Mothers of unborn children throughout the country are concerned about contracting the virus, though mosquito-borne diseases are no strangers to most citizens.
“The best way to avoid getting the disease is to keep the house clean. You also have to prevent the stagnation of water. This is exactly what we did previously with dengue and chikungunya,” she explained.
To avoid mosquitoes flocking to standing water in or around a home, proper plumbing maintenance is required. Sewers older than 40 years old may have to be replaced and when damaged, can become a hub for stagnant water.