Zika Virus: How concerned should you be?
BY SERGIO CARMONA – Jewis Journal
With Zika Virus cases reported in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties, how concerned should South Floridians be?
That question was the topic of conversation during a recent presentation at The Shul Jewish Community Center Chabad-Lubavitch in Surfside. Dr. Fernando Akerman, associate medical director of the Fertility & IVF Center of Miami, presented this discussion.
When asked in an interview what he hopes the audience can take away from his presentation, Akerman responded: “That they learn about the virus and not be worried.”
“The more that they learn about this, the more that they would know how to combat the virus and only be worried if they need to,” he continued. “If you have the knowledge, you have the power to combat the disease and live a healthy life.”
Ackerman explained that what’s been reported on the news regarding this virus has been coming from people who don’t necessarily have the expertise on it and generally scared a lot of people.
“If you really know what’s going on with the virus and you’re not pregnant, or have no plans to get pregnant, you must not worry at all about this virus here,” he said. “However, if you’re pregnant, you should be cautious, but you shouldn’t be worried really about that.”
However, Akerman did stress that the virus should not be ignored at all.
“At this point, you don’t really know exactly if the virus can cause congenital malformations or not, but you should assume it can cause them and try to prevent them.”
Akerman said that the virus is a very mild disease.
“It looks like the flu with rash, red eye, temperature, dehydration. How many times do you feel like that, and you said you got the flu and don’t even go to the doctor and just stay home, drink fluids and that’s it? I think now, with all the potential problems with congenital malformations like the microcephaly on the children, we start paying more attention. But for most people, this is no more than very mild, flu-like type of symptoms. There’s nothing to worry about.”
Akerman said that as a gynecologist, he works mainly with pregnancies and that he’s not the expert to really study the virus.
“I’m just telling you what I’ve learned over the years [career in Obstetrics and Gynecology],” he continued.
Perla Salver, a Bal Harbour who’s seven months pregnant, attended the presentation and felt it was very informative.
“I came in informed about Zika and what to do as a pregnant woman, so this reassured my thoughts and the important things I was told by my doctor,” Salver said. “I work on Miami Beach and it’s very close to the cases that are coming out, so it’s very scary, but this presentation was great and the pictures really helped visualize everything.”
Among the information that Akerman’s presentation included was identifying the virus as a single stranded RNA virus that was first isolated in 1947 from a monkey in the Zika Forest in Uganda and in a human in Nigeria in 1952. He also mentioned that the virus is primarily transmitted by two Aedes species mosquitoes. He also covered additional modes of transmission including mother-to-fetus and sexual. He noted that the virus is now in 54 countries and territories worldwide, including 41 countries and territories in the Americas. He also noted that there are 75 total Zika cases in Florida, including 32 in Miami-Dade County.
Milena Liascovitz, the Shul’s events coordinator, said about hosting this discussion: “We always try to do things based on what the community needs and not only religious things, which are part of the community’s needs, but we need to give them more than that and this [Zika Virus] is something everyone is talking about.”
Liascovitz felt it was important for the Jewish institution to host a discussion important to the general community.
“We try to take care of all the communities and we try to make them feel that we’re there for them and we worry about them.”
Contact the Fertility and IVF Center of Miami at 305-596-4013 or visit Miami-ivf.com for more information.