In recent weeks, general public concern over the spread of the Zika virus has prompted some questions about the Church’s approach to protect its missionaries. In the following interview, Elder Gregory A. Schwitzer, assistant executive director in the Church’s Missionary Department, discusses the issue.
Are missionaries at risk?
We want missionaries to succeed, to be healthy and to be safe. Every effort is made to instruct missionaries on best practices to prevent illness or accidents. The well-being and safety of missionaries is truly our first priority.
We do have missionaries in areas where the Zika virus exists, but missionaries throughout the world are instructed on how to stay healthy, including avoiding mosquito-borne viruses. The disease prevention principles are the same for any disease that’s transmitted by mosquito. We have been providing them with this instruction for many years. These instructions are being reemphasized in an effort to strongly encourage missionaries to follow the appropriate measures.
As previously mentioned, the greatest concern related to Zika infections has to do with pregnant women and their unborn children. Obviously, this isn’t something that’s relevant to our sister missionaries. There is no evidence to support that subsequent pregnancies or fertility is affected when the woman has fully recovered.
What is being done to protect missionaries?