Thursday, March 9, 2017

Government Does Good Things With Viruses

The Idaho legislature is in the process of passing a bill, S1060, which would raise awareness of, “a birth defect causing virus”.  Some questions I had after reading this article are: What virus is it?  What do they mean by awareness? Is awareness necessary, and if so, should awareness be extended beyond the windswept fields of Idaho?

What virus is it?
This bill wants to raise awareness of cytomegalovirus, appreciated CMV. While CMV infection is relatively common in children, with nearly 1/3 children infected with CMV by 5 years of age, this virus is unique in its ability to be transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy.  This bill was introduced after a mother gave birth to a baby with CMV, which resulted in congenital CMV infection and long-term health issues, and she wanted to prevent congenital CMV infection in other babies.

What do they mean by awareness?
The bill specifically aims to make the public aware of the risk of CMV to pregnant women, and wants to make this information available to: licensed health care providers, day care facilities, schools and persons offering health care or health education, religious or denominational organizations offering children’s programs as part of their services, and other entities that would benefit from this information.

Is awareness necessary, and if so, should awareness be extended?
Since CMV can result in birth defects, awareness can only help to decrease the incidence of CMV infection. Since there is no vaccine available, and since 1/150 babies is born with CMV, and of those 1/5 has long term health consequences, early detection and anti-viral treatment could help mitigate those long-term health effects.

-Cynthia Taylor

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