Clinical Care Gaps in US Zika Cases

Today, the CDC released important new information on the Zika outbreak and its impact on pregnant women. The report, which details approximately 1300 US pregnancies, contains several important points:

  • The risk for fetal malformation is the highest in the 1st trimester with 15% of confirmed 1st trimester infections having this horrific result
  • Overall, the risk of fetal malformation appears to be 10% with confirmed maternal infection
  • The vast majority of babies with possible Zika infection or brain malformation did not get further testing (either for diagnosis or brain imaging)

This last point is the most ominous as it shows just how hard it is for crucial public health and medical messaging to find its way to the front line clinicians. Diffusion of knowledge in ordinary care is a difficult decade long process -- clearly not something that can be tolerated in the midst of an infectious disease emergency like Zika.