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Puerto Rico Confirms First Zika-related Birth Defect Case

May 16, 2016 03:56 AM EDT
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A case of Zika-related microcephaly has recently been recorded in United States-territory Puerto Rico, according to the Department of Health of Puerto Rico. This is the first case of the birth defect linked to local transmission of the Zika virus in the US.

It is found that the fetus exhibited severe microcephaly, which causes the baby to be born with an abnormally small head. Doctors also found calcifications in the fetus' brain and tested positive for Zika.

According to Puerto Rico Health Secretary Dr. Ana Ríus Armendáriz, the family had requested privacy and will not give any other details about the case.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) spokeswoman Erin Sykes said that they conducted a test to confirm the diagnosis. "This case of Zika virus disease in pregnancy saddens and concerns us as it highlights the potential for additional cases and associated adverse pregnancy outcomes," she said.

Armendáriz strongly recommends that health care providers should make sure to screen pregnant women with Zika-like symptoms.

Following the discovery of the virus in Puerto Rico, the CDC also announced the funding of additional $25 million to help US states and its territories continue working on their Zika preparedness response. This allocation is on top of the $60 million redirected Zika funding, which will be used for supporting lab capacity, improving surveillance, boosting mosquito control, promoting blood supply safety and contributing data to a pregnancy registry.

In January, health officials confirmed the birth of a baby with microcephaly in Hawaii. The mother had become infected with the Zika virus while living in Brazil.

The Puerto Rico Department of Health has reported 925 cases of Zika virus. A total of 27 people had been hospitalized with the illness and noting six cases of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which is also said to be caused by the Zika virus. In February, a 70-year-old Puerto Rican man died from complications caused by the Zika virus.

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