Zika virus found in Arkansas; more cases in Puerto Rico
(AP) The Arkansas Department of Health says a person who recently traveled out of the United States has tested positive for the Zika virus.
The department says that the person has a mild case of Zika, which is spread by mosquitoes and is suspected of causing a spate of birth defects in Brazil. Spokeswoman Meg Mirivel would not say whether Tuesday if the infected person is a man or woman or give the person’s age.
Mirivel says the individual traveled to the Central America-Caribbean region, though she would not specify which country. Some U.S. travelers have been infected abroad with Zika but there are no cases of local infection in the U.S. so far.
Brazilian officials have linked the virus with a rare birth defect, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have urged pregnant women to consider postponing flights to areas where the virus is prevalent.
18 confirmed cases of Zika in Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico is reporting a jump in the number of mosquito-borne Zika virus cases.
Health Secretary Ana Rius says there are 18 confirmed cases, though none involve pregnant women. Brazilian officials have linked the tropical illness to birth defects.
Puerto Rico epidemiologist Brenda Rivera said Tuesday the majority of cases are in the island’s southeast region. She says many of the victims are elderly.
Officials said they are testing more than 200 other potential Zika cases that have tested negative to dengue and chikungunya.
U.S. officials say pregnant women should consider postponing trips to 22 destinations with Zika infections, including Puerto Rico.
UN: Zika virus link to small-head condition ‘circumstantial’
GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization says it suspects a link between the mosquito-borne Zika virus and a rare birth defect that gives babies abnormally small heads but says so far the evidence is circumstantial.
WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier says the “big task” is to try to establish a link between the virus and microcephaly, which involves abnormally small heads in newborns and can affect brain development.
He said the U.N. agency plans a special session Thursday on the virus during a Geneva meeting of its executive board. He said the virus has been associated with close to 4,000 microcephaly cases in Brazil, and El Salvador, Panama, Colombia and Cape Verde also have “large outbreaks.”
Lindmeier told reporters Tuesday the “huge increase” of Zika cases “gives a lot of reason for concern.”