The United States reported its first locally transmitted case of Zika in Florida in July. But now, US health authorities on Friday declared a public health emergency in a U.S. territory who’s outbreak of Zika has now infected more than 10,000 people: Puerto Rico.
US Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell declared “a public health emergency of national significance exists within the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico relating to pregnant women and children born to pregnant women with Zika.”
A large total of 1,035 pregnant women are among the 10,690 people who have been infected in Puerto Rico in the past seven months, the island’s health authorities said. More than 1,900 cases of Zika were identified in the last week alone, prompting the state of emergency.
Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause birth defects and is particularly dangerous for pregnant women. It is primarily spread by mosquitoes, but can has been confirmed to be transmitted by sexual contact as well.
In four out of five cases, the virus causes no symptoms. Those who do feel sick have reported fever, rash, body aches and conjunctivitis, or pink eye. However, pregnant women are particularly urged to protect themselves against Zika because it raises the risk of birth defects including microcephaly, in which infants are born with small heads and malformed brains.
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