AUSTRALIAN Catholic agencies have sent universal prayers to those suffering from the Zika virus sweeping through South America.
Caritas, Catholic Mission and other prominent bodies are yet to release official statements or provide aid on the ground in heavily affected areas, but remain in a state of alert as more information about the virus emerges.
Marist Father Paul Mahony, who spent more than 20 years ministering in Brazil, said contacts in Brazil and the Australian Brazilian community had expressed concern over further repercussions of the outbreak.
Concerns over the Zika outbreak continue to grow with an estimated three to four million cases expected to hit the Americas in 2016.
The World Health Organisation has declared the virus a global health emergency due to its rapid expansion in Brazil.
“We should not give in to panic, nor act as if we were in a situation that, despite its gravity, is not invincible,” it said.
The Zika virus is transmitted by mosquitos and sexual contact, symptoms are usually mild to moderate and treatable when detected, but most concern is being raised around its potential links to microcephaly in babies.
Brazil’s Ministry of Health has officially attributed 17 cases of microcephaly a condition which causes babies to be born with small heads and other complications to the Zika virus.
Fr Mahony said it might be the confusion about the actual symptoms of the Zika virus that had delayed the reaction of Catholic organisations in Australia.
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
The Catholic Leader acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of this country and especially acknowledge the traditional owners on whose lands we live and work throughout the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.