Introduction: We report the results of a rapid assessment of Zika virus awareness among key clinical specialties in Singapore.
Methods: Between June 6 and June 19, 2016 we conducted an online survey of doctors working in obstetrics and gynaecology, neonatology and paediatrics in Singapore. The survey included 15 multiple choice questions to measure respondents’ knowledge of Zika virus in four domains covering clinical and public health.
Results: A total of 110 survey responses (15% response rate) were obtained, 82% of respondents worked in the public sector. Overall, the median respondent score was 9.4 (Max score=15), with substantial variation (range: 3.5 – 14.7). Microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome were recognised as causal complications of Zika virus infection by 99% and 50% of respondents respectively. Clinical features which could help differentiate Zika from Dengue were less well understood with 50% and 68% correctly identifying conjunctivitis and low grade fever respectively. Worryingly, 14% favoured non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as part of treatment, without first excluding dengue as a diagnosis. Also, only 36% of respondents were aware of the current recommendation for preventing sexual transmission of Zika virus. Fewer than 50% were aware of the need for ophthalmological evaluation as part of congenital Zika virus infection.
Discussion: Our assessment demonstrates that there is good awareness of the clinical manifestation of Zika virus disease among key specialty doctors, but confusion with Dengue disease remains. It also highlights knowledge gaps in the prevention of sexually-transmitted Zika virus infection and the clinical management of congenital Zika virus infection in newborns. Our study identified strategic areas to improve communication to front-line doctors during public health response to the Zika epidemic.