The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparity (NIMHD) awarded a $198,000 supplemental grant to the FIU Center for Substance Use and HIV/AIDS Research on Latinos in the United States (CRUSADA) to study Zika infection among farm working Latinas in South Florida. The study is led by Dr. Patria Rojas and Dr. Mario De La Rosa from CRUSADA and the FIU Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work. The research team also includes co-investigators and CRUSADA postdoctoral research associates, Dr. Mariano Kanamori and Dr. Mariana Sanchez. This exploratory study will assess the risk level of immigrant workers in the agricultural field and their knowledge of Zika and examine effective intervention and outreach strategies that target vulnerability and leverage key protective factors associated with Zika infection risk behaviors among Latina farm workers. It aims to increase awareness of the Zika virus which represents a public health threat for South Florida’s farm worker community given that geographically, Miami Dade serves as a hub for individuals traveling to and from Latin American’s Zika affected countries and has subtropical climate that remains a hospitable environment all year long for mosquitos potentially carrying the virus.
[Photo: Dr. Patria Rojas (left) and Dr. Mario De La Rosa]
According to Dr. Rojas, “this investigation enhances CRUSADA’s existing health promotion and disease prevention efforts, giving the team an opportunity to study this unforeseen vector and sexually transmitted virus that has several unexplored consequences including its effect on in-utero child development.”
“This study is of high public health relevance because Latina farmworkers are extremely vulnerable to Zika and its detrimental effects because they generally work outside during peak mosquito activity hours (early dawn and evenings) near overgrown bushes and open fields. These conditions are often exacerbated by this population’s limited access to healthcare as well as language and cultural barriers” says CRUSADA Director Dr. De La Rosa.