Puerto Rico declares state of emergency over Zika outbreak

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The female Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which transmits the Zika virus, in the process of acquiring a blood meal from her human host. (Photo: CDC/James Gathany)

 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Monday February 8, 2016 – A state of emergency has been declared in Puerto Rico over the Zika virus, with at least 22 people infected, including a pregnant woman and a man who developed a paralysis syndrome that has been linked to the mosquito-borne virus.

Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla announced that the State Emergency and Disaster Administration is creating a task force to deal with the crisis.

A price freeze has been ordered on products needed to prevent the disease.

According to officials, the pregnant victim is in her first trimester of pregnancy. There is particular concern over pregnant women contracting the virus, as it is suspected to be linked to microcephaly, a defect in which babies are born with small heads and brains. In Brazil, there have been thousands of cases of women giving birth to babies with this condition.

In the other case of note, a man diagnosed with Zika has developed Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the nerves. It has been associated with viral or bacterial infections.

Puerto Rico reported its first case of Zika in December 2015.

Meantime, scientists at Brazil’s premier state-run research institute for tropical diseases say they’ve discovered the presence of active Zika virus in urine and saliva samples.

President of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Dr. Paulo Gadelha, says the virus’ ability to infect other people through the two body fluids requires further study, and the discovery does not yet merit any additional health recommendation.

However, because of what has been found, he recommended that pregnant women take special precautions, given the reported link to microcephaly.

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