zika NurPhoto/Getty Images

Les injustices du virus Zika

SOUTHAMPTON – Les épidémies de maladies transmissibles sont déjà suffisamment graves du point de vue sanitaire. Mais elles sont également lourdes de conséquences au plan de la justice sociale, parce qu’elles aggravent des crises humanitaires enracinées, notamment en dégradant des services publics déjà défaillants et en renforçant les inégalités existantes.

Comme l’épidémie due au virus Ebola en Afrique de l’Ouest en 2014, la maladie à virus Zika en Amérique centrale et latine a frappé le plus durement les groupes sociaux vulnérables – les femmes et les enfants, les minorités ethniques et les pauvres. Comme pour la fièvre jaune, la dengue et d’autres maladies, le vecteur du virus Zika sont les moustiques du genre Aedes aegypti. Mais fait inhabituel pour un virus transmis par des moustiques, le virus Zika est également transmissible par voie sexuelle. Plus surprenant encore,  il est associé à des troubles neurologiques et de développement chez les nourrissons : la microcéphalie et le syndrome de Guillain-Barré. Ses symptômes sont par ailleurs relativement bénins chez l’adulte.

Cela signifie que, sur les plus de 1,5 millions de personnes infectées depuis le début de l’épidémie, les conséquences sont les plus graves pour les femmes en âge de procréer et particulièrement pour celles qui étaient déjà enceintes. Entre 2016 et 2017, 11.059 cas de maladie à virus Zika chez des femmes enceintes ont été confirmés, avec 10.867 cas de microcéphalie et d’autres malformations congénitales du système nerveux central de leurs bébés. 56 pour cent de ces bébés sont nés de femmes pauvres et de couleur du nord-est du Brésil.

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