Johns Hopkins opens world's first Zika virus center
Johns Hopkins Medicine has launched the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Zika Center, where medical professionals focus on caring for patients with the Zika virus. The center is touted as the first multidisciplinary Zika center in the world.
The center's staff, providers and members are from Johns Hopkins Medicine, the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and medical experts from Brazil. These experts focus on infectious diseases, maternal-fetal medicine, ophthalmology, epidemiology, pediatrics, physiotherapy, psychiatry and social work.
"Patients will no longer be required to travel to multiple centers for care relating to Zika virus," said William May, MD, associate professor of ophthalmology, Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute, in a statement. "Physicians and staff members in various departments at Johns Hopkins will be available to provide comprehensive care to patients within one institution."
While the virus is most commonly known to cause microcephaly, a birth defect affecting the brain, the virus also causes eye abnormalities, like cataracts, in over half of the babies infected with Zika. The Wilmer Eye Institute led the Zika center's development, which will be able address these concerns.
Both adults and pediatric patients from around the world can be referred to the center by outside physicians or through Johns Hopkins. Patients may also call the center to make an appointment. The Zika center will also conduct research to further understand the virus.
"Our No. 1 priority will be focused on our patients, but our hope is that our care will also lead to many new developments in the effort to fight this potentially devastating disease," said May.
In Florida, virus continues to spread
The center's opening comes on the heels of Florida Governor Rick Scott's announcement on Wednesday of a new case of locally-contracted Zika in Palm Beach. To date, the virus had been contained to a small Wynwood neighborhood and neighboring Miami Beach.
To date, there are 43 non-travel related cases in these areas and 523 travel-related cases throughout the state.
Further, the Governor expressed frustration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for failing to provide enough support to the state. Last week Scott requested 5,000 antibody tests, but Florida has only received 1,200. He also requested more lab support and personnel to expedite testing and an additional 10,000 Zika prevention kits, but the requests haven't been answered.
"This is unacceptable," said Scott in a statement. "It's disappointing that these requests have not been fulfilled. Florida now has 43 cases of locally acquired Zika and the Obama Administration must quickly fulfill our entire request so that we can continue to provide the resources our state needs to combat this virus."
"I've also repeatedly called on the Obama Administration to provide a detailed plan on how Florida should work with FEMA on how federal resources will be allocated to combat this virus," he added. "I expect the Obama Administration to be a good partner and work quickly to fulfill these requests."