First Case of Zika Virus Reported In Puerto Rico

First Case of Zika Virus Reported In Puerto Rico

Brazil has been hit by a highly infectious virus that gets transmitted by mosquitoes. The virus, called Zika virus, has been blamed for a high number of birth defect cases in Brazil. Recently the first case of Zika virus has also been reported in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico’s Health Secretary Ana Rius said in a statement on Thursday that the unidentified patients had not travelled recently and lives in the island’s eastern region.

Symptoms of the illness include slight fever, headache and joint pain in the hands and feet. As per health officials, symptoms of the Zika virus infection are very much similar to that of people infected with two mosquito-borne illnesses dengue fever and chikungunya.

Apart from this, scientists said that Zika virus infections have led to a recent increase in cases of babies being born with abnormal heads. Scientists said several babies born in these areas within this year had small heads, a condition which they call microcephaly, which often results in mental retardation.

As per reports, over 2,700 babies in Brazil were born with microcephaly in 2015. The ratio was up from fewer than 150 in 2014. Seeing the severity of the situation, Brazil health officials have accepted that the surge in the abnormal births is being linked to a sudden outbreak of the Zika virus.

Since the first case of Zika virus detected in May 2015, health officials estimated that between 440,000 and 1.3 million people have been infected with the infectious virus.

Rodrigo Stabeli, vice president of the Rio de Janeiro-based Fiocruz research institute, said, “We are looking at the beginning of an epidemic in a country that has in between 200,000 and 300,000 births per year, which shows how worried we are. It's a virus we don't know that much about”.

In other news NYTimes reported, at least 40 of the infants have recently died, and some Brazilian researchers warn that cases could multiply in the months ahead. Those babies who survive may face impaired intellectual development for life.

Brazilian researchers say that Zika, an obscure mosquito-borne virus that made its way to the country only recently, is to blame for the sudden increase in brain damage among infants.

In a statement provided to NBC News, Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico's representative in Congress, said in a statement his office had been in touch with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which had confirmed the single case of Zika on the island.

"There is no reason for alarm, and the public should continue to take common sense steps to avoid mosquito bites, like using repellent and wearing long pants and shirts," Pierluisi said.

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, according to a report from the CNN.

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