Church-based group helps children, homeless fight Zika virus in U.S.

An aedes aegypti mosquito is seen inside a test tube as part of a research on preventing the spread of the Zika virus.Reuters

From Brazil to other Latin American countries, the Zika virus infection has become a global health emergency, spreading to other areas including the United States. It has now reached even Singapore, which is halfway around the world from the point of origin.

In the U.S., Catholic organisations are doing their share to make sure that people are protected from the infection, and that the virus does not spread further.

The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami, for instance, is focused on lowering the possibility that residents, particularly children and homeless individuals, will be bit by mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus.

"This is a public health crisis and we are working with people," Richard Turcotte, chief executive officer of the Catholic Charities, said, as quoted by The Catholic News Agency.

In the childhood development centre and homelessness centre where the group operates, Catholic Charities already installed mosquito traps. The Catholic organisation also conducts daily inspections in these centres to check that there are no places with stagnant water, where Zika-carrying mosquitoes are known to breed.

In addition to these efforts, Catholic Charities has also limited the time spent by children outside the centre to lessen the possibility that they will get infected by the Zika virus.

John DiCamillo, ethicist for the National Catholic Bioethics Center, commended Catholic Charities for its effort against the Zika virus, saying that aside from caring for people's health, the group is also ensuring the dignity of people.

"It's important to remember that in each of these cases we're dealing with a human life, a human person, who is being impacted by the disease, and at no point does that give us the right as a society, much less as a parent, to directly intend the destruction of that individual," DiCamillo also told The Catholic News Agency.

He also maintained that abortion should not be viewed as a way to address the Zika virus public health emergency.

"If we're going about directly killing people who are part of a society as a means of protecting a society, then we're doing something that's fundamentally self-contradictory," DiCamillo said.