(HealthDay News) — Physicians need to be prepared to speak to patients about Zika virus, according to an article published in Medical Economics.
As transmission in the United States becomes more likely with the progression of summer, physicians need to be able to educate patients, share prevention tips, and assess individual patient risk. Experts say that while the Zika talk need not be a long one, it is important for physicians to bring up the subject and explain the risks for both adults and the fetus of any pregnant woman.
The first step is that physicians should take a good history and find out whether the patient or their partner has recently traveled to Zika-prevalent areas. Especially in patients who have Zika risk related to travel to Zika-concentrated areas such as Brazil and Puerto Rico, physicians can help patients avoid sexual transmission of the disease by advocating the use of condoms — even among monogamous couples. If a woman does have a relevant travel history, physicians should advise that she waits at least 8 weeks before attempting to conceive. If a male partner has a positive travel history or has shown signs of the disease, he should be advised to wait at least 6 months before attempting to conceive. Physicians can also prevent vector-borne transmission by recommending the use of Environmental Protection Agency-approved insecticides and protective clothing.
“One question we get from patients is whether Zika is real or if the media is hyping it,” said Wanda Filer, MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, according to the article. “I tell them it’s serious.”