CDC says 157 pregnant women in US test positive for Zika
The number of pregnant women in the United States infected with Zika virus is suddenly tripling, due to a change in how the government is reporting cases.
Previously, officials had reported how many pregnant women had both Zika symptoms and positive blood tests. In a change announced Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s count will include all women who tested positive, regardless of symptoms.
There are now 157 pregnant women infected with Zika in the 50 states, up from the 48 reported last week under the old definition.
Experts emphasized that there does not appear to be any dramatic actual increase of pregnant women with the disease in recent months. There was a spike in diagnoses in February and March, but relatively few new cases since then, according to CDC data that includes women who experienced symptoms and those who didn’t.
The Zika virus causes only a mild and brief illness, at worst, in most people. But in the last year, infections in pregnant women have been strongly linked to fetal deaths and to potentially devastating birth defects, mostly in Brazil.
The virus is spread mainly through the bite of a tropical mosquito called Aedes aegypti. It can be found in the southern United States, but there’s no evidence that they’ve been spreading the virus in the U.S. yet. All the 544 total cases in the 50 states so far have been people who had traveled to outbreak areas, or who had sex with someone who did.
Experts think mosquitoes on the U.S. mainland will probably start spreading the virus in the months ahead, when hot weather hits and mosquito populations boom.
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