At the end of July, the CDC said it was monitoring more than 900 pregnant women who are infected with the Zika virus. In Miami, Christine Curry, a doctor who practices and teaches obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Miami Hospital and Jackson Memorial Hospital, is on the front lines. Curry acknowledges that fighting the current outbreak is much like the challenges doctors faced with the HIV/AIDS epidemic in its early days — so little is known about the disease, and health officials are learning new things every day.
Curry, in an essay for TIME magazine, says she has treated more than a dozen pregnant women afflicted with the Zika virus. She’s on the front lines of the battle, and shared a few anecdotes about what she’s experienced and how she approaches these very sensitive cases. Specifically, she noted, planning for the birth of a Zika-affected baby is a complicated and day-to-day endeavor. It’s also critical. “If a woman is in her third trimester and has been infected with Zika, at each visit we focus on planning for birth, monitoring the baby by ultrasound and reviewing the latest research together,” Curry says. “We might also plan for monthly ultrasounds. It is possible that a baby that looks normal on one ultrasound may show problems on a later ultrasound. Some problems can develop over time and become obvious later.”
Uncertainty, it seems, could be the most excruciating aspect of the experience for both patient and doctor. “If a baby is born with microcephaly, we don’t know the exact issues that the baby might have. This means the mother won’t know right away if her child will lead a normal life or will always need medical care.”
Public TV station WLRN did a story on Curry last week and discussed with her not only the uncertainty the medical community faces now, but the unpredictability of what might play out after news of the virus began making global headlines.
“I think it’s fair to say that most obstetricians had never heard of this virus a year ago,” Curry told WLRN, adding, “I knew from the get-go that it may end up being nothing, just an interesting story out of Brazil, or it may end up being a reproductive game-changer — which is, I think, where we’re at right now.”
Curry goes on in her piece for TIME to discuss how she would advise doctors should approach the nascent methods of treating Zika patients who are pregnant.
Read the full story at TIME.