Wednesday brought big news from Baltimore.
Leaders at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have opened the world’s first comprehensive hospital-based center dedicated to treatment and research of the Zika virus.
A press release posted on the hospital’s website read, in part:
The Johns Hopkins Wilmer Zika Center is a pioneering collaboration among leaders from theJohns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Brazilian ophthalmology community. The center was established to facilitate the comprehensive care of patients with Zika virus, including infants with virus-related congenital defects, and to conduct research that helps identify effective therapies and ways to minimize transmission, according to Dr. Peter McDonnell, director of the Wilmer Eye Institute.
It went on to say:
Wilmer ophthalmologist William May, M.D., will serve as co-director of the Center and collaborate with specialists from epidemiology, infectious disease, maternal-fetal medicine, orthopedics, pediatrics, physiotherapy, psychiatry and social work to treat adult and pediatric patients with Zika virus infection.
Why is ophthalmology leading the effort?
According to the press release, eye abnormalities affect more than half of the babies born with Zika. Eye impairments also strike some adults diagnosed with the illness.
“The Wilmer Eye Institute will focus on the ophthalmologic manifestations of Zika. It has a team dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment and research of ocular conditions related to the cornea and the retina,” the release said.
Spotlight on public awareness
On the heels of the Hopkins news comes guidance from professional press organizations on how reporters can educate the masses about Zika. Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard tweeted a resource list and tips on how best to cover the outbreak:
A bug in the ointment?
In Florida, there wasn’t much love being spread around for Gov. Rick Scott and his wife. News broke that Florida first lady Ann Scott has a multi-million-dollar investment in a mosquito control service. TruthKings.com reported:
The company is Mosquito Control Services LLC of Metairie, LA. According to its website, MCS “is a fully-certified team of mosquito control experts – licensed throughout the Gulf Coast, including Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.” Back in June, the Governor signed an executive order to push over $26 million towards preventing and preparing for Zika. This included mosquito control via pesticides.
Snarky tweets—several laced with obscenities—popped up on Twitter:
Late Wednesday, the governor’s office confirmed there are 43 cases of locally acquired Zika in Florida.
As the virus spreads, representatives of a local Planned Parenthood agency held a press conference condemning Scott over his leadership and efforts to fight Zika. The Miami Herald reported:
Lilian Tamayo, CEO for Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida said Miami-Dade has the highest amount of uninsured working-age adults in the state and a “staggering” rate of STIs, setting the state up for a disaster unless there’s swift government action.
Tamayo criticized Florida Gov. Rick Scott for not reacting to the parts of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention action plan that call for more information and resources on family planning. “You cannot have a Zika strategy that focuses solely on mosquitoes,” she said. “You can’t cherry pick the CDC strategy.”
Volunteers from Planned Parenthood have mobilized in the stricken areas of Miami. The Herald said:
For the next six weeks, 10 staff members will go door-to-door in areas where large groups of reproductive-age women live, including Little Haiti and Hialeah, but may not have been reached by state or federal Zika education efforts. Tanisha Osorto of Planned Parenthood said the effort will reach 25,000 households. The workers would knock on doors during six-hour shifts six days a week to get the word out.