“Zika Virus: The Pregnancy Plague” explores the genesis and evolution of the Zika virus after its appearance in Latin America. Initially, healthcare experts hoped the widespread arbovirus would be mild and intermittent as it spread by mosquito bite throughout Central and South America. However, in a matter of weeks starting in late 2015, the World Health Organization and Pan American Health Organization realized that while only one in four infected persons developed mild symptoms, certain persons were dramatically impacted. Cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a paralyzing condition, skyrocketed and serious cases of birth defects, namely microcephaly, a condition where infants are born with brains half normal size, increased ten-fold.
The initial thinking was that the United States would be spared but that notion is no longer part of mainstream thinking as mosquito experts have pointed out the United States, especially the Southeastern US, has robust populations of A. aegypti and A. albopictus, the two culprits responsible for the spread of Zika.
The book investigates what Zika means for women of childbearing age and family planning in the US and the increasingly worrisome frequency of birth defects among those infected during pregnancy and how we might defend citizens as Zika makes its way into the United States.