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Nearly 300 Pregnant Women in the US Likely Have Zika Virus

Photograph by Twenty20

If you're pregnant, trying to get pregnant or even thinking about trying to get pregnant, you really can't bury your head in the sand when it comes to Zika virus at this point, says the CDC. In April, the CDC said we should be more worried about Zika than we initially thought—and they weren't joking.

At least 157 pregnant women across the mainland U.S. are being monitored because they’ve either shown signs of having contracted Zika virus, or have tested positive even though they had no symptoms. Puerto Rico has the highest number of cases, with 122 pregnant women being monitored.

"One challenge of this Zika virus outbreak is the lack of understanding of the magnitude of risk and the spectrum of outcomes associated with Zika virus infection during pregnancy," said researchers in a report published on Friday.

The women who have shown symptoms of Zika have had fever, rashes and conjunctivitis (more commonly known as pink eye).

The CDC will continue monitoring the women so they can "advance clinical care, and assist states and territories to anticipate and plan needed resources and increase prevention efforts."

Escalating numbers of documented cases of the disease, spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, have caused some countries to advise women to postpone pregnancies during the outbreak, or at least until more is known about the disease.

In February, the White House asked Congress for $1.9 billion in emergency funding to fight the domestic spread of the virus. On May 19, the House of Representatives approved $1.1 billion in funding by borrowing money previously set aside for fighting the Ebola crisis. President Obama called the $1.1 billion package "woefully inadequate," as combating spread of the virus as well as developing better diagnostic tests and a Zika vaccine are expected to be much more costly. The CDC says that as of last week, there were 544 total cases of Zika in the U.S. and 800 cases of Zika across U.S. territories—mostly in Puerto Rico. Although many of the cases in Puerto Rico have been due to mosquitoes, the CDC in February also confirmed that Zika virus can be sexually transmitted, too.

The CDC said it will start posting weekly updates on the number of Zika-related pregnancies it's monitoring, and in future reports, they say they'll share details of the outcomes of the pregnancies being monitored. Unfortunately, since many of the babies have not yet been born, researchers just don't know enough about how Zika virus affects developing fetuses.

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