Hospitals should prepare for increased demand for maternal and child health practitioners and neurology specialists as a result of the Zika virus in the United States, according to a new Zika preparedness resource guide from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).

In higher-risk areas, hospitals also might have a need for increased screening and testing resources in the event of an outbreak of the Zika virus.

The guide, from the HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), notes that Zika patients might require care from a variety of providers in:

  • outpatient;
  • acute care;
  • home health care;
  • case management; and
  • social services.

A large outbreak of acutely ill patients is unlikely, according to ASPR. Rather, complications from an outbreak are expected to disproportionately affect specific patient populations, such as pregnant women.

WHO Guidance

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has released updated guidance on sexual transmission of the Zika virus for the general public and health care workers.

According to the guidance, sexual transmission of the Zika virus was reported in 10 countries between 2011 and 2016. In all cases, transmission was from a symptomatic male to his partner either before, during, or after the onset of symptoms.

The WHO guidance has several key recommendations, including that health programs ensure all patients infected with Zika receive information about sexual transmission of the virus.

In a statement, WHO clarified that the intention of the guidance is to provide patients with knowledge and understanding of the risks and their options, not to suggest delaying pregnancy in Zika-affected areas.

Contact Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.