On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency as the spread of the Zika virus has moved into more than 20 countries in Latin America. This rare move by the WHO signals the seriousness of the outbreak and gives countries powerful new tools to fight it.
The WHO is concerned about a possible link between Zika virus and microcephaly, a condition that causes babies to be born with brain damage and unusually small heads. Reported cases of microcephaly have risen sharply in Brazil, where Zika is raging, rising from 150 reported cases of microcephaly in 2014 to 4,180 cases in 2016. Researchers have yet to establish a direct link.
To keep physicians up-to-date on this growing concern, the American Medical Association (AMA) has created an online Zika Virus Resource Center as a clearinghouse for timely, credible information from WHO, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Journal of the American Medical Association and other respected sources of health information.
Providers can visit the AMA's Zika Resource Center at www.ama-assn.org/go/zika.
Currently available resources include:
- Education for physicians about the risks and symptoms of the Zika virus
- How providers can detect the Zika virus
- Treatment of symptoms and effects of the virus
- Continuous updating of information about the infection, with maps of Zika-infected areas
- Tools for communicating clearly and factually with patients, their families, and the media about exposure risks and potential preventive measures, particularly as new evidence becomes available
While there has been no occurrence of Zika transmission in California, the California Department of Public Health will hold a conference call for health care providers on Wednesday, February 10, from 9-10 a.m. The call will provide information and updates about the Zika virus, and give providers the opportunity to ask questions. To join the conference call dial (866) 216-6835 and key 839641 as the participant passcode.
Questions about the conference call can be directed to Cheryl Starling, (916) 324-0336 or email@example.com.