Since November, thirty cases of Zika virus infection have been confirmed in Puerto Rico, a new report states.
The Zika virus is known to pose a significant threat to pregnant women, as it may cause microcephaly, as well as other birth defects, in their children.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), no cases of microcephaly – a birth defect in which a baby’s head is significantly smaller than the heads of other children of the same age – associated with the Zika virus, have been reported in Puerto Rico so far.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report – published Friday (Feb.12) – stated that the first locally acquired Zika case was reported by doctors on Dec. 31, 2015 in south-eastern Puerto Rico.
From Nov. 25, 2015 to Jan. 28, 2016, the CDC report said that health care workers managed to diagnose 27 people as having Zika virus infections.
A survey showed that most of the patients, namely ninety-three percent of them, live in the San Juan metropolitan area, or in eastern Puerto Rico. Some of the people who contracted the virus had symptoms such as muscle pain, eye pain, rash, and joint pain, and four of them had to be hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, most people who become infected usually show no symptoms, the CDC stated.
Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist and a senior associate at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Center for Health Security, said that the first trimester is crucial for the brain development of the foetus, which is why pregnant women should not travel to areas where the Zika virus is spreading, or – in case they live there – to take a lot of precautionary measures.
One of the patients who became infected developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome – an autoimmune disorder that may be linked with the Zika virus – according to the CDC report. The patient had to be hospitalized.
Health official said that the virus might spread throughout the island, because Puerto Rico is home to a mosquito species called Aedes aegypti, which carries Zika virus.
Currently, there is no vaccine or medication to treat Zika virus. However, people can protect themselves by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long trousers, covering their doors and windows with screens, and using insect repellent with picaridin or DEET.
A study published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases found that the Zika virus can also been found in the saliva, semen, and urine of infected people.
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