Venezuelan Cases of Zika Are Being Underreported on a Dramatic Scale

Venezuelan opposition leader José Manuel Olivares is claiming that President Nicolás Maduro has not accurately reported the number of Zika cases in Venezuela.

According to Breitbart, Olivares is also Chair of the Subcommittee on Health in Venezuela’s National Assembly and has recently appealed to the World Health Organization (WHO) for assistance.

Although Olivares noted that doctors have been monitoring just over 5,200 suspected cases of the virus and have found 21 deaths connected to the virus, he believed that the real number of infections is much higher. He estimates that anywhere between 400,000 to 500,000 Venezuelans have contracted the Zika virus.

This estimate is a far cry from Maduro’s previous statement that officials have only confirmed 319 cases of Zika and three deaths caused by the virus.

“This means the numbers don’t add up. This is a big lie from the government because if you have 255 Guillain-Barré [a rare syndrome sometimes resulting from Zika] cases you cannot have 3,000 suspected cases of Zika. You have to have at least 250,000.” said Olivares. “We maintain that there are 400,000 to 500,000 cases of Zika in Venezuela.”

According to FOX News Latino, the neighboring country of Colombia has reported more than 30,000 cases. It does indeed seem bizarre that the two countries, sharing a border which enables the thriving Venezuelan black market, would have such a drastic difference in Zika cases.

If Olivares is correct — and it seems likely that he is — Venezuelans are already facing a terrible medical emergency. While Americans are abusing 10% of all prescription drugs sold domestically, Venezuelans are desperate for any medications.

WHO reports that around 75% of medications considered to be “essential” for the wellbeing of a nation are not available in Venezuela at all. The medications needed to treat mothers and babies who have contracted Zika are, predictably, even harder to come by.

With the increasing political instability and inflation rate that Venezuela faces, it’s unknown if the country will be able to manage treatments for Zika before a full-blown medical emergency situation occurs.