I added several things to my knowledge of Zika Virus from this article.
First, I learned what is being done on the global scale to combat Zika’s march around the globe– mostly prevention education. But the forces behind this are huge. WHO has gotten very involved and has even declared public health emergency. But the why is crucial here. The mostly developing nations (such as Singapore and several South American countries) that have been hardest struck by the virus are advocating abortion for those that find out before birth that their child will have Zika Virus related microcephaly. These people are so AFRAID of the disabilities and struggles involved with raising a child with microcephaly, they feel the best alternative is to kill the child before giving it a chance to live. That is startling to me. We therapists are certainly not doing a very good job in bringing hope to this population if that’s the way they are thinking.
Let me be perfectly clear: there is hope for a life with disability!
I want to shout that from a mountain top with a huge megaphone! I don’t have a mountain top or a megaphone, so I guess the blog will have to do.
That goes for any disability, whether Zika related microcephaly or not. THERE IS HOPE! I’m not going to say it is any easy life, because it’s not. Life is different, but there most certainly is life. Abortion is not the only option.
Voy a ponerlo aqui en espanol, porque mi mensaje es muy, MUY importante. Mi mensaje es eso: hay esperanza para una vida con disabilidad. Si encuentras antes del nacimiento que tu bebe va a tener una chanza de una disabilidad, por favor, darlo una chanza a vida. No tienes un aborto. Los doctores no saben todo; solamente el Senor sabe todo. Tambien sabes esto: una disabilidad no es una castiga conta los padres, ni el nino, ni la familia. Tampoco disabilidades no son contagiosos. Pudias ser en contacto con uno con una disabilidad, y no vas a contagiarte.
(There. I put that message in Spanish too, since Zika is a big problem in South America.)
One of the biggest factors making life tough for these families is the social stigma of having a child with a disability. Unfortunately, a society level change will take generations of education. We can start that right here and now and hope to see a change for the better in a generation or two. But we need a positive change RIGHT NOW. The article mentioned that just having ONE person be supportive of the mother and child makes a huge difference– usually the spouse or another relative are the most effective. We need to get to THOSE people and educate them too about this issue– there is hope!
The second thing I learned in this article, is that adults who contract Zika virus can have generalized autoimmune reactions beyond the typical cold like symptoms. This can look like Guillain-Barre syndrome, myelitis or meningoencephalitis. Scary.
Finally, a recent article in JAMA was saying that there may be a second wave of Zika cases. Meaning that perhaps the kids born to mothers who are infected by Zika when they are in utero may not be out of the woods just because they don’t show symptoms at birth. They could develop neurologic symptoms later on down the road. Again, scary.
Anyway, I’m keeping close tabs on this as it develops. Hope you are too, because if WHO has declared a public health emergency, this is important.