Author: Archana Patel, MD, MPH

How to talk to your patients about Zika

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The hype around Zika virus seems to be settling down. The Summer Olympics in Rio appeared to occur without incident (at least associated to the virus spread), and the number of reported cases has plateaued. Media interest, while not gone, is definitely waning from where it was in February, when the World Health Organization declared Zika a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

Yet for those working on the frontlines or in global organizations trying to define and understand the outbreak, it is clear this is a false period of calm.

This past July, as I walked the halls of a hospital in Brazil, I witnessed the impact of the disease firsthand. Tired and despairing mothers carried their infants with abnormally small heads, trying futilely to soothe their shrill cries as they waited for medical care. They carried them close and explained to our visiting group of public health officials that the stigma of having a child with Zika virus has started to pervade society, with people simultaneously fascinated and frightened by their children.

For these mothers, taking care of their children has become their full-time job. Providers and families in the affected regions remain afraid and worried about the long-term care that these children will require. And this wave of fear and uncertainty is moving to the U.S. …Read More