Co-written by Donald Wertlieb.
The Zika virus epidemic, first observed in Brazil in Spring of 2015, has spread to 43
countries and territories in the Americas. Although Zika has relatively mild clinical symptoms in adults and children, the disease has been linked to neurological disorders such as Guillain-Barre syndrome. Zika also has been connected to thousands of cases of microcephaly
in infants throughout the Americas.
Infants with this microcephaly have smaller head circumferences and significant developmental and learning
difficulties. Many of them will need health and social supports such as specialized health services, early childhood intervention, special education instruction, and family respite care throughout their lifetime. Will the families and communities of these children be prepared to care for them in all the affected countries?
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Deborah Klein Walker is a Vice President and Senior Fellow at Abt Associates. She is the current president of the American Orthopsychiatric Association, a global alliance for behavioral health and social justice. She is a former president of the American Public Health Association and the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs. The opinions expressed are her own and do not reflect those of Abt Associates.
Donald Wertlieb is Professor emeritus at Tufts University and President of the Partnership for Early Childhood Development and Disability Rights. He is a past president of the American Orthopsychiatric Association. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect those of their affiliations.
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