Health Center News

Community Health Centers and the Zika Virus

zika2Guest post by Ellen Robinson, NACHC Director, Information Resources and Outreach Clinical Affairs 

With new information on the Zika virus being reported every day, NACHC hosted a TeleForum on Wednesday, Feb. 24th to update health center staff and offer resources  [see press release].

Speakers included Dr. Laurence Slutsker, Director for the Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Center for Global Health, Lily Mitchell from the Texas Association of Community Health Centers and Pat Klase representing Su Clinica Familiar, a health center located in Harlingen, TX.  We will post a recording of that call soon on NACHC’s Zika virus page.

Health centers are taking the Zika virus very seriously, especially in areas where cases have been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  In Texas, a state where there have been cases of travel-associated Zika recorded, some health centers, such as Legacy Community Health have started screening pregnant women for the virus.

“Knowing that the mosquito that carries Zika thrives in many parts of Texas, TACHC assembled an action team as soon as news stories about the virus’ rapid spread throughout the Americas began to surface. The team meets weekly and interacts daily to prepare our health centers by providing clinical and public health resources from the CDC and other sources,” said José E. Camacho, executive director and general counsel for the Texas Association of Community Health Centers in Austin, Texas.  “We are so proud of our health centers that already are sharing information with staff and patients, asking screening questions and have developed or are preparing clinical protocols.  It’s important to remember the critical role that access to care plays in preventing the spread of something like Zika. People who don’t have access to care tend to delay seeking medical attention or only seek it out for acute illnesses. For a disease like Zika where 80 percent show no symptoms and the rest have mild symptoms, lack of access to care could contribute to the virus spreading more rapidly.”

We will continue to keep you updated on this issue as developments continue.