A Doctor Explains What It's Really Like to Treat Women With Zika
We've been seeing Zika all over the news lately, but few of us know someone who has personal experience with it. OB/GYN Christine Curry, however, knows several. With Zika spreading in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, over a dozen pregnant women with the virus have already seen Curry at the University of Miami Hospital and Jackson Memorial Hospital. In an article for The Conversation, Curry describes what it's like to have women with Zika come into her office. Here's how it works:
- She talks to everyone about the virus. If you're not pregnant, Zika will just leave you with a fever and other mild symptoms, she explains. But if you are, you risk giving birth to a child with microcephaly, a small head with abnormal brain development. Nearly 2,000 babies currently exhibit this trait, according to the World Health Organization. Curry teaches all her patients about avoiding mosquitos and sexually transmitted Zika.
- If she thinks someone might have contracted the virus, she orders tests. "The patients I worry about the most now are those who live or work in Wynwood and those who’ve traveled to countries where Zika is more widespread, or those who show the symptoms of Zika infection," she writes. Zika testing will soon be free for pregnant women in Florida.
- It the patient has it, they have to have a difficult conversation. Curry encourages her patients to consider questions like: "What would it mean to have a sick baby in her family? How would she get support no matter what options she chooses?"
- A pregnant woman with Zika requires special care. If someone decides to go through with the baby or finds out about the pregnancy too late to legally end it, they go through new Zika-related research together during each visit, since it's constantly coming out. "Since this is such a fast-moving and public epidemic, we are sharing the research with our patients to keep them involved and help them understand why it is so important to collect as much information as possible," she explains. They have ultrasounds every month to check up on the baby, since symptoms can change rapidly.
- There's still a lot of uncertainty. Curry admits she's largely in the dark about Zika, since doctors are finding out about it along with the rest of the public. "With daily news and internet updates, patients are able to stay just as up-to-date as the doctors," she writes. "I will have patients print out a news article or a research finding and bring it to their appointment, highlighted and with questions in the margins." The best doctors can do, she says, is stay on top of new developments, have honest conversations with patients, and listen to them.
More From Glamour:
• How Zika Is Connected to Reproductive Rights
• The CDC Is Telling Pregnant Women to Avoid This Region of Florida Over New Zika Cases
• The Terrifying Reason All Pregnant Women Should Get Tested for STIs
• Scientists Say Pregnant Women Should Be Aware of These Zika-Like Diseases Too
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