Zika Virus Reported in Puerto Rico

Sandee LaMotte, CNN, January 2, 2016

Health officials in Puerto Rico reported the island’s first case of Zika, a mosquito-borne virus recently linked to the rise of a serious neurological disorder among newborns in Brazil.

“There is no reason for alarm, and the public should continue to take commonsense steps to avoid mosquito bites,” Puerto Rican Congressman Pedro Pierluisi said in a statement on Thursday. He added that he expects experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to visit the island in early January to educate local physicians to “properly diagnose and treat the virus.”

The CDC has issued a warning to tourists traveling to Puerto Rico and other affected areas, asking them to protect themselves from the mosquitoes that spread the virus–especially pregnant women. The Aedes aegypti mosquito thrives in tropical climates and typically lives around buildings in urban areas. It is known to bite aggressively during the day, but can also attack at night, both indoors and out. It’s the same mosquito that can carry yellow fever, dengue fever and chikungunya.

There is no vaccine to prevent Zika, and once infected there is no medicine to treat the virus. Symptoms typically include fever, rash, joint pain, and the red eyes of conjunctivitis. They’re usually mild, and can last up to a week. Other symptoms can include muscle pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and vomiting. Symptoms typically begin three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

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Zika made news recently when it was linked to a rise in microcephaly, a neurological disorder that can result in incomplete brain development in newborns. Zika first appeared in Brazil in early 2015. More than 2,400 suspected cases of microcephaly were reported last year in 20 Brazilian states, compared with 147 cases in 2014. {snip}

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Zika fever was first discovered in Uganda in the 1940s and has since become endemic in parts of Africa. It also spread to the South Pacific and areas of Asia, and most recently to Latin America. Because of global travel, health experts warn the virus could appear anywhere in the world.

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