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Health and Medicine

Nine Pregnant U.S. Women Confirmed To Have Been Infected With Zika

author

Ben Taub

Freelance Writer

clockFeb 29 2016, 19:47 UTC
138 Nine Pregnant U.S. Women Confirmed To Have Been Infected With Zika
Pregnant women are advised not to travel to regions known to be affected by the Zika virus. EmiliaUngur/Shutterstock

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released details of nine confirmed cases of Zika infections in pregnant women in the U.S. Of these, two suffered miscarriages, two opted to have an abortion, while three gave birth and two remain pregnant.

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Of the three births, two babies are reported to be healthy while the third has severe microcephaly. This is a condition in which the head and brain do not develop to their normal size, and while a causal connection between the virus and the disorder has yet to be established, the recent surge in Zika-infected women giving birth to babies with microcephaly suggests that the two are linked.

In its latest update, the CDC reports that 257 pregnant women had been tested for Zika in the U.S. between August 1st, 2015, and February 10th, 2016, after exhibiting at least one of the symptoms associated with the virus. These include fever, rash, conjunctivitis, and joint pain. Of these, only 3 percent were diagnosed with Zika, suggesting that pregnant women who experience some of these symptoms should not panic, as they can be caused by a range of factors other than Zika.

Crucially, all of those diagnosed with Zika had traveled to an area known to be affected by the epidemic during their pregnancy. At present, Zika is known to be actively transmitted in 32 countries and territories worldwide, and while no cases of infection through a mosquito bite have occurred within the U.S. itself, a total of 107 U.S. residents have so far contracted the virus while abroad.

Among these are nine pregnant women, each of whom reported for testing after displaying a minimum of two of the symptoms associated with the virus shortly after returning from an affected area. In these regions, Zika is most commonly transmitted by mosquitoes, although recent evidence suggests that it can also be passed on through unprotected sex or contact with body fluids such as saliva and urine.

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While two of these women suffered miscarriages, it is not yet known if this was caused in any way by the virus, particularly since both of these pregnancy losses occurred in the first trimester, when miscarriages are fairly common, occurring in approximately 9 to 20 percent of all pregnancies.

Of the two women who chose to have abortions, one is said to have learned after having ultrasound scans that her unborn baby was suffering from “severe brain atrophy,” or tissue degeneration, though the CDC report does not provide details of the other.

Another woman began to experience symptoms associated with Zika approximately seven weeks after gestation, and gave birth to a baby suffering from severe microcephaly at 39 weeks. With a head circumference of just 27 centimeters (10.6 inches), the baby is said to have difficulties moving and swallowing, while also experiencing seizures.

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The CDC is still monitoring the progress of two pregnant women who are confirmed to have been infected with Zika, and has advised against travel to affected areas for all pregnant women.


Health and Medicine
  • virus,

  • pregnancy,

  • infection,

  • abortion,

  • microcephaly,

  • zika,

  • miscarriage

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