As millions of Americans flee their homes for their next vacation, one group is struggling to get a handle on how the deadly virus is spreading and what they can do to protect themselves.
More than 4.8 million people have been declared “at-risk” due to Zika since it first emerged in the Americas in December, and some 6.4 million are living in areas that have been hit hard by the virus, according to a Reuters tally.
The numbers represent nearly 70 percent of the U.S. population, and include a significant share of people who have no contact with the infected.
That includes those living in the U of A, the largest university in Canada, and in the city of Toronto.
A group of U.K. students who are enrolled at Oxford University, for example, are living with the virus and have had to leave their dorms.
They have been forced to spend most of their time at home or in a hostel and do not have access to any basic resources, such as clean water, food or basic hygiene supplies.
“We’re just getting by on a shoestring budget,” one of the students, 18-year-old student Emily Lomas, told Reuters.
She has spent about $30 a week on clothes and other necessities.
“I’ve been able to eat for the last week,” she said.
One group of American citizens is making a major difference.
The U.N. Refugee Agency says it is helping the families of 4,000 U.s. nationals who have settled in Brazil to help them stay healthy.
The agency says it has received more than 8,500 applications to help in Brazil since the start of the Zika outbreak in March.
The agency’s executive director, Paul Klee, said the agency was seeing an “unprecedented influx” of refugees and that its mission is to “provide a safe, permanent home for those fleeing violence and conflict and poverty.”
“As we are in the midst of this crisis, we cannot overstate the importance of this,” he said in a statement.
“We must provide them with safe and affordable housing so that they can rebuild their lives and their communities.”