By Patrick Donachie
A Long Island hospital has opened a clinic for anxious parents-to-be who are concerned that they may have been infected with the Zika virus.
The North Shore University Hospital Center for Maternal Fetal Health in Manhasset will screen for the Zika virus and offer consultations every Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The clinic and consultations will focus on pregnant women who have recently traveled to regions where the Zika virus is prevalent, including South America and Latin America.
In a release announcing the new clinical weekly hours, hospital officials noted that the Center for Maternal Fetal Health had been receiving about 10 calls a day from worried patients since the emergence of the Zika virus as a possible health threat in New York City. The first consultations were conducted March 9, and the medical center hopes to offer its patients a degree of clarity and calm.
“When you have something like Zika that comes out of nowhere and there’s so much fear and demand for answers in the community, it’s better to concentrate the efforts in a coherent program,” Dr. Burton Rochelson, the chief of maternal fetal medicine at North Shore, said in the announcement about the new clinic. “It’s a needed service for both pregnant moms, who are understandably anxious, and for their physicians.”
The majority of those who are infected with the Zika virus will not show symptoms, but for some it appears with symptoms that make it seem similar to a mild form of the flu, including fever and body aches. It has been shown, however, to cause birth defects in the children of expectant mothers, including incidences of microcephaly, which causes a baby to be born with a smaller head.
The virus is spread via mosquitoes, and reported incidents of the virus in the United States have been sparse but are increasing. As of March 9, there were 193 cases of travel-associated Zika virus cases reported in the United States, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control.
Of those cases, 25 emanated from New York state, and the city Department of Health reported there have been 15 cases in the five boroughs. Two of these cases affected pregnant woman, and the city reported that all patients recovered fully.