Throughout our 20 years, we have always made volunteer safety our top priority, so we want to provide an update on Zika. You have likely heard about the Zika virus affecting people primarily in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. We are happy to report that—based on our safety assessment and the advice from CDC and the WHO—all of our programs in Latin America will remain open.

For those who do not know about the Zika virus, here are the basics: the virus is contracted by mosquito bites and, in rare cases, through sexual contact with someone who is infected. Some people who contract the virus undergo mild, flu-like symptoms. The virus clears the body within one week with no long-term impact. If contracted, the Zika virus cannot transmit to others unless there is sexual contact or a blood transfusion. The CDC says the primary concern is for pregnant women, since the virus can pass to the baby and may cause severe birth defects.

The Zika virus alert is not pertinent to the majority of our volunteers. Only volunteers who are pregnant or may get pregnant before, during, or within one week of their CCS program should be concerned. Otherwise, the Zika virus will most likely not affect your experience on a CCS program.

We take proactive steps to ensure our volunteers are protected. We remind volunteers to take the standard mosquito bite prevention steps —namely covering up, preferably with permethrin-treated clothing and gear, and using deet during high biting times. We take additional preventative measures such as regularly checking for standing water around our Home-Bases and installing bed nets in some locations (Ghana and Tanzania).

We will continue to monitor the situation and follow the advice of organizations like the CDC and WHO to make sure our staff and volunteers are safe. Please don't hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. The CDC and WHO are also great resources to learn more about the Zika virus. As always, our teams look forward to welcoming you into our communities!

Best regards and safe travels,
Steve Rosenthal

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