The number of patients diagnosed with the Zika virus in the United States grows every day, and three of the latest patients are pregnant women.
Although long-term complications of Zika are unknown, researchers strongly believe that the virus is connected to microcephaly – a condition where an infant is born with smaller-than-normal brain and head size. Evidence suggests that microcephaly can also lead to vision-threatening problems
. In addition, Zika has been linked to multiple miscarriages and newborn deaths
. Therefore, there is a particular need to protect pregnant women from the mosquito-borne illness.
In a statement
released on February 24, the Florida Department of Health confirmed that three pregnant women tested positive for Zika – bringing the state’s total count to 32 patients in 11 counties. Miami-Dade County, the most southeastern county on the US mainland, has the most with 11 patients. For privacy reasons, the counties where the pregnant women reside have not been identified.
All of the patients contracted the virus after traveling out of the country. Only three of the 32 patients are still showing Zika symptoms, according to the report, which typically last a week to 10 days at the most.
Florida Governor, Rick Scott, declared
a public health emergency on February 3 when there were only nine Zika cases in four counties. Now, due to the three diagnoses in pregnant women, the governor requested that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention send 250 more Zika antibody tests.
Florida’s Surgeon General and Secretary of Health, John Armstrong, MD, FACS, testified
before Congress on February 24 to speak on the state’s Zika efforts.
“Although it seems unprecedented in nature, I’m confident that our history as a department has prepared us to address this issue. In the past, we have had success in containing other mosquito-borne illnesses such as chikungunya virus and dengue virus, with systems of readiness that mirrors the level of preparedness we currently maintain,” Armstrong said.
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