It likely comes as no surprise that the number of reported cases of Zika virus infection in the United States continues to grow, with the Florida Department of Health(www.floridahealth.gov) reporting 56 locally transmitted cases in the state as of Sept. 9, including a new case in the Tampa Bay area. In all, 2,964 cases in the United States and 15,869 cases in U.S. territories had been reported through the CDC's ArboNET system(www.cdc.gov) as of Sept. 7.
Needless to say, it's essential that family physicians remain apprised of the latest clinical guidance on the disease.
To educate members on the most recent developments in the evolving Zika virus outbreak, the AAFP will host its second members-only webinar on the topic Sept. 16 from noon to 1 p.m. CDT. The live webinar will be archived after the event for later viewing.
In Mouse Model, Zika Virus Detected in Eye Tissues
Aside from the known clinical syndromes of microcephaly, intrauterine growth restriction and fetal demise associated with maternal Zika infection, a number of studies have described eye malformations and other ocular pathology in infants born to mothers infected with the virus during pregnancy. Manifestations of eye disease in these newborns include chorioretinal atrophy, optic neuritis, bilateral iris colobomas, intraretinal hemorrhages, lens subluxation and blindness.
In an effort to better understand these ocular effects, a study published Sept. 6 in Cell Reports(www.cell.com) examined how Zika virus infection affected the eyes of congenitally infected mice -- finding that live virus persisted in the eyes seven days after infection.
Specifically, the researchers sought to determine whether Zika virus targets the eyes of mice by using a published model of viral pathogenesis in immunodeficient adult animals, as well as in immunocompetent neonatal mice and fetuses. Although no evidence of congenital ocular disease was observed, as has been described in humans, the virus infected the eye and caused conjunctivitis and severe uveitis in the immunodeficient adult mice. Researchers also detected abundant viral RNA in tears, suggesting that virus might be secreted from lacrimal glands or shed from the cornea.
The report further noted that the model developed to study the mice can now provide a foundation for studying Zika virus-induced ocular disease, defining mechanisms of viral persistence and developing therapeutic approaches for viral infections of the eye.
- review the most current information on the status of Zika virus infections in the United States,
- understand the latest guidelines on the management of pregnant women at risk for Zika virus infection,
- review the most up-to-date guidelines on sexual transmission of Zika virus,
- understand CDC-recommended testing algorithms and procedures,
- summarize prevention strategies against Zika virus infection for individuals and populations,
- describe the role of family physicians in preventing and managing Zika virus infection, and
- identify useful resources for Zika virus information for health professionals and patients.
The webinar will be presented by Ranit Mishori, M.D., M.H.S., director of global health initiatives in the Department of Family Medicine at the Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., and a member of the AAFP's Commission on the Health of the Public and Science.
Mishori told AAFP News that one area on which she plans to focus is providing guidance to pregnant women and couples who are considering pregnancy who may have been exposed to the Zika virus through travel to areas in which the virus is active, through sex with partners who have been exposed to the virus or from living in areas of active transmission.
"It's important for family physicians to stay up-to-date on Zika virus because many of us get questions, especially those of us who live in areas where mosquitos are prevalent or there is a high potential for exposure from travel, and we need to know what to tell our patients," she said. "It's a complex situation, and patients really trust their family physicians to get the most updated information that they can then consider in the context of their family, family planning issues and daily preventive measures."
Mishori said because the Zika virus outbreak continues to evolve, it's important that family physicians remain vigilant about educating themselves after the webinar concludes with updates from the CDC(www.cdc.gov) and resources from the AAFP.
"The CDC is changing its guidelines almost on a weekly basis, so there are some general ideas and communication methods to consider when talking to patients about Zika virus that the webinar will provide," she said.
"But family physicians need to realize when you are talking about Zika virus in mid-September, what you say might not be true in mid-October. So the most up-to-date information should still be obtained through the CDC website."
Related AAFP News Coverage
As Zika Spreads, Evidence of Link to Birth Defects Grows