Cases of a virus linked to birth defects are being recorded across the region.
United States Congressman Pedro Pierluisi, the representative from Puerto Rico, has been in touch with the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) and he says there is a confirmed case of the Zika virus on the island, according to Fox News.
The virus, first detected in Africa in the 1940s, had not been detected in the Americas until last year, but confirmed cases have been recorded in the countries of Brazil, Panama, El Salvador, Mexico, Suriname, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Guatemala and Paraguay. The mosquito-borne virus certainly appears to be spreading across the region.
This past November, Brazilian authorities linked the virus to a large increase of babies being born with microcephaly, a birth defect that damages the mental and physical abilities of children.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Brazil has been hit with almost 2,000 cases of babies born with the disease, although the cause of the outbreak has not yet been specifically determined.
After being bitten by a mosquito carrying the Zika virus, 75 percent of the people experience symptoms that include a mild fever, a rash, conjunctivitis, headaches and joint pain within three to 12 days after receiving the bite. The illness is usually mild, and it is thought an infection can provide lifelong immunity.
Severe cases of the disease are not common and deaths from an infection are especially rare.
Pierluisi, in talking about the case in his home area, said, “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.”
However, the CDC has issued a travel notice for persons traveling to Puerto Rico and is advising them to take normal precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites, not only to protect from the Zika virus, but other mosquito-borne viruses like dengue and chikungunya.
Travelers to the areas with Zika activity are advised to seek medical attention if they are experiencing any of the symptoms, and health care workers in the infection zones should be on the alert for possible cases.