The Zika epidemic – a public health risk issue

Publié le 27 Jan, 2016

“For half a century,” the Zika virus “was believed to be harmless”.  However, in recent weeks this has become a public health problem because the virus is “believed to trigger incurable congenital deformities when it infects pregnant women (microcephaly with irreversible brain damage)”. The epidemic is mainly spreading in Columbia, Salvador, Ecuador, Brazil and Jamaica where it is “once again raising the question of abortion” in these countries where abortion has not been decriminalised.


The problem resides amongst other things in “scientific uncertainty”about the impact of the virus on pregnant women.  “The physiopathological causal link is probable, but not definite”. In the case of French women, the General Health Directorate has announced that “pregnant women or those wishing to become pregnant (i.e. women of child-bearing age) living in areas affected by the Zika epidemic will be specifically informed by health professionals” and “medical follow-up and more rigorous treatment will be introduced for all pregnant women in endemic areas”.


Moreover, “if congenital anomalies are detected during an ultrasound scan, an examination will be carried out without delay to establish the cause. Patients will therefore be directed towards a Multidisciplinary Centre for Prenatal Diagnosis (MDCPD) for an aetiological and prognostic evaluation of the foetus’s condition, the potential consequences of which will be explained to expectant mothers”.

Jean Yves Nau (26/01/2016) ; AFP (28/01/2016)

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