A review article published in JAMA Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery has outlined information otolaryngologists need to know about the Zika virus.
The review authors identified the head and neck manifestations of the virus, which include:
- odynophagia; and
- retro-orbital pain.
The authors also describe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols on specific molecular and seriologic testing for the virus and algorithms for follow-up care of suspected cases.
“The otolaryngologist may be the first clinician to encounter an individual who is already infected with the Zika virus or who is at risk of acquiring it through a mosquito bite or via sexual transmission,” wrote Itzhak Brook, MD, MSc, a professor in the department of pediatrics at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., in an invited commentary accompanying the review.
Dr. Brook emphasizes that otolaryngologists are likely to miss correctly identifying patients with Zika virus or those at risk of acquiring it if they, like many subspecialists, fail to explore “unrelated historical aspects or nonrespiratory tract systems of their patients” and incorporate that into their usual approach to history taking and physical exam.
Overall, the review provides otolaryngologists with some understanding of the origins of the Zika virus, how it is transmitted, the potential serious neurologic complications that can result from infection, the need for early detection and prevention, signs and symptoms to look for, current management strategies that rely on conservative care in the absence of a vaccine, and strategies to contain the virus.