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Amber Gourdine wasn’t taking any chances.

Braving the humid, 90-degree days in central Nicaragua, the recent Rutgers graduate donned long sleeves and tucked her pants into her socks to avoid mosquito bites. Then, she embarked on daylong hikes to rural homes to educate residents on water safety and how to protect themselves against the Zika virus, which is on the rise throughout most of the country.

“I sprayed Permethrin and Off on my clothes and used mosquito nets, but despite my best attempts, I got bitten,” says Gourdine, who spent nine weeks this summer serving in the global health intensive program at AMOS Health and Hope, a nonprofit that works in impoverished Nicaraguan communities to improve citizens’ health through education and development projects. “That’s why education is so important – reducing mosquitos and taking precautions by eliminating standing water and proper hygiene is the best defense.”

Although the incidence of Zika has fallen in many Central American countries, Nicaragua and Costa Rica are still reporting increases, according to the Pan American Health Organization. In August, Nicaragua confirmed its first microcephaly birth linked to Zika.

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