Zika virus poses dilemma for Church

The outbreak of the Ziak virus has created a dilemma for the church says Quentin de la Bedoyere.

It is strongly suspected, though not fully proven, that, in some pregnant women, it causes microcephaly in the foetus. (Microcephaly is a severe shrinkage of the brain, which damages brain function.)

Writing in the Catholic Herald Quentin de la Bedoyere says that, ” The obvious and sensible precaution is to avoid pregnancy until the situation is under control.”

He says the Catholic church therefore faces a dilemma.

“Once it is accepted that artificial contraception is justified by a good intention, we open a gate we cannot close.”

But the options are not attractive, he says.

“Can we imagine the likely effects of proclaiming that married couples should refrain from sexual activity for an indefinite period?”

“Should all couples in the 21 countries at risk immediately master and use natural family planning?”

“Or is it enough to keep quiet, and hope that no one asks any questions”

The first documented outbreak of Zika virus in the South Pacific occurred on Yap Island in the Federated States of Micronesia in 2007.

This outbreak affected 180 (confirmed, probable and suspected) people and was characterized by rash, conjunctivitis and joint pain.

In October 2013, French Polynesia reported its first outbreak, which was estimated to affect around 11% of the population.

This particular outbreak spread to other Pacific Islands including New Caledonia, Cook Islands, and Easter Island.

As most cases of Zika virus infection present with mild illness and there was limited laboratory capacity during this outbreak for the detection of Zika virus, it is likely that many cases of infection were not identified.

Cases of Zika virus infection have also been reported in American Samoa and Tonga.

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News category: Asia Pacific.

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