The first report on how the Zika virus affected US territories showed that 5 percent of women with confirmed infections had babies with birth defects, US health officials said on Thursday. The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the first to include official numbers from the territory of Puerto Rico, which on Monday declared that its Zika epidemic had ended, based on data showing the number of new cases has fallen. The CDC on Thursday reiterated its recommendation that pregnant women not travel to Puerto Rico, noting that Zika remains a risk for pregnant women there and anywhere else the mosquito-borne virus is active. “Zika virus poses a serious threat to pregnant women,” said CDC Acting Director Dr Anne Schuchat. “Women in the U.S. territories and elsewhere who have continued exposure to mosquitoes carrying Zika are at risk of infection. We must remain vigilant and committed to preventing new Zika infections.” The report reviewed 2,549 cases of women with possible Zika infection who completed their pregnancies, of which 1,508 had confirmed infections. Besides Puerto Rico, the cases came from American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Marshall Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands from Jan. 1, 2016, through April 25, 2017. Of these confirmed cases, more than 120 pregnancies, or about 5 percent, resulted in Zika-associated birth defects, the CDC said in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Among the women infected during their first trimester of pregnancy, 8 percent had babies with Zika-associated birth defects. That compared with 15 percent in a prior study of birth defects among women from U.S. states and the District of Colombia, most of whom became infected during travel to Zika-affected countries. The CDC said because the newer report is much larger, the findings are not statistically different. About 5 percent of women infected during their second trimester and about 4 percent infected in their third trimester had babies with Zika-related birth defects, showing the virus remains dangerous throughout a woman`s pregnancy. The report represents the largest number of completed pregnancies with lab-confirmed Zika virus infections to date.
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