In sobering news, results from a study using mice as a model indicate that children's and adult's brain cells which are critical to learning and memory might be susceptible to the Zika virus. Zika may be able to infect neural progenitor cells which serve to replenish normal neurons over the course of a lifetime.
Meanwhile, a second local Zika out break may be beginning in Miami Beach Florida. Louisiana is bracing for Zika in the wake of recent flooding since flooding affords more mosquito breeding grounds. Finally Puerto Rico has declared a state of emergency due to the Zika outbreak. Zika has infected about 10 thousand people there including over 1000 pregnant women. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) estimates that 10,000 pregnant women could be affected before the end of the season.
The head of ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) has written a piece highlighting Florida as the worst place to be a pregnant woman. He cited the combination of three things: the threat of Zika, restrictive abortion laws, and the lack of funding to fight the virus.
CDC director Tom Frieden has indicated that there is now thought to creating a $300 million dollar “ rapid response reserve fund” to combat infections disease such as Zika.
The CDC is becoming concerned that sexual transmission of the virus can spread beyond its natural geography beyond the territory of the Aedes mosquito. The CDC estimates that the public underestimates the risks of transmitting Zika sexually.
Brazil has been on the leading edge of the Zika epidemic. Fifty years ago they once combatted this virus. However, they fear this time it will not be so easy. They do believe their mosquito control efforts are yielding results. However, they are beginning to discover the long term medical consequences of Zika.
According to researchers a the University of Kansas, Zika is unlikely to spread the the majority of North America, however is could plausibly spread to Africa and Southeast Asia.
In other news, OB/GYNs are in short supply and the supply is due to become even shorter incoming years. Although the field is rewarding in many ways, there are also many disincentives associated with it as well, such as risk of lawsuit and grueling hours.
The US fertility rate has plummeted to the lowest point on record. Some factors are that women are delaying pregnancy, teens are having fewer pregnancies, and more women are choosing to have no children at all. The first quarter of 2016 saw 60 births per 1000 women, half that of the 1950s. Forty years ago, women had their first baby at 21, on average. In year 2000 it was about 25. Now it is over 26 years of age. It is speculated that the economic downturn may bear on this. It is also speculated that women are increasingly concerned with stability, turning attention to being financially solvent, with adequate education, good jobs, and lower debt.
Stay tuned next week for more breaking news from the world of Obstetrics and Gynecology.