HAS Responds to the Zika Outbreak
Last week, the World Health Organization declared the epidemic of birth defects associated with Zika virus to be a public health emergency of international concern. At HAS, we have had several suspected cases of Zika in the past weeks, and we are taking proactive steps to prevent its spread and care for patients who are sickened by Zika.
The Zika virus is a mosquito-transmitted infection related to dengue that began to spread in the Western Hemisphere last May, when an outbreak occurred in Brazil. When symptoms are present, it can manifest as a fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis.
HAS has many years of experience addressing mosquito-borne illnesses. We treat many patients each year for dengue, malaria, and chikungunya. Unlike these illnesses, Zika can manifest with mild symptoms, and sometimes causes no noticeable symptoms at all. Zikaâ€™s danger lies in its potential link to microcephaly in newborns, a birth defect causing babies to be born with an abnormally small head and brain damage.
As there is currently no vaccine, or definitive â€œcureâ€ for the disease, most of our efforts are focused on prevention through education. All doctors and staff have been educated about the signs and symptoms of Zika, and are informing patients â€“ particularly in our community health centers, where many patients seek pre-natal and reproductive health services.
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