The Centers for Disease Control announced Friday morning that 157 pregnant U.S. women have tested positive for the Zika virus.
This is the first time the agency had disclosed the number of Zika-infected pregnant women in the U.S.CDC scientists say there is now enough evidence to conclude that Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects.
Microcephaly is a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than normal. Babies with microcephaly often have smaller brains that might not have developed properly.
This map, also from the CDC, shows the estimated range of the Aedus aegypti mosquito, which is more likely to spread diseases like Zika than other types of mosquitoes.
Shaded areas do not necessarily mean that there are infected mosquitoes in that area, they mean that those areas are where that type of mosquito has been found in the past.
The Obama Administration has requested $1.9 billion in emergency Zika funding. The U.S. Senate approved $1.1 billion of that request. The U.S. House of Representatives, however, voted to allocate $622.1 million financed through cuts to existing programs, such as for Ebola, which U.S. health officials have called inadequate and shortsighted.
The World Health Organization has said there is strong scientific consensus that Zika can also cause Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis in adults.
The connection between Zika and microcephaly first came to light last fall in Brazil, which has now confirmed more than 1,300 cases of microcephaly that it considers to be related to Zika infections in the mothers. (Reporting by Ransdell Pierson and Bill Berkrot; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and James Dalgleish)
The CDC suggests the following methods for protecting yourself and your family from mosquito bites this summer:
Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants and treat clothing with permethrin.
Eliminate standing water inside and outside your home.
Use screens on the exterior of your home to keep mosquitoes outside.
Repair and seal your septic system.
Use an EPA-registered insect repellent. http://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents
Work together to eliminate standing water and reduce mosquito populations.