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Invited Commentary
January 2017

Otolaryngologist—Beware of Zika

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, DC
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2017;143(1):84-85. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2016.3432

The recent introduction of the Zika virus into the Western hemisphere and its unprecedented and rapid spread represent a great challenge to the otolaryngologist. The article by Arnaoutakis and Padhya1 discusses the issues confronting otolaryngologists in dealing with this phenomenon.

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. Diagnosing a Zika virus infection or recognizing the risk of acquiring such an infection can lead to early detection or prevention of the infection. Most otolaryngologists, like other subspecialists, typically limit their history taking and physical examinations to the areas of their specialty and generally do not explore unrelated historical aspects or nonrespiratory tract systems of their patients. They are, therefore, more likely to miss Zika-infected individuals or those at risk of acquiring the virus.

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