SAN JUAN – Puerto Rican Health Secretary Ana Rius announced Friday the detection of the island’s first case of severe microcephaly in a fetus infected by the Zika virus.
Rius said the reason for the deformation was discovered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, from samples taken from the fetus of an expectant mother.
“CDC has confirmed the first case of Zika virus disease in a fetus in Puerto Rico. CDC conducted the laboratory test that confirmed the diagnosis and has shared the results with the Puerto Rico Department of Health,” the agency said in a statement.
Rius said 128 pregnant women have now tested positive for the virus, which in most of the population produces hardly any symptoms, but which has been linked to microcephaly and other congenital disorders in babies born of infected mothers.
“We were waiting for this news at some point,” Rius said, insisting that early detection of the case was possible due to the island’s “robust surveillance systems.”
Rius added that, honoring the family’s right to privacy, no further details would be released about the case, or whether it had entailed abortion or miscarriage.
In just the last week studied (April 22-28), 18 more pregnant women with Zika were detected on the island, where altogether this year 785 have been affected, though the almost unnoticeable symptoms suggest that many more might have been infected.
“I want to urge any pregnant women with even the slightest concern of infection to go see a doctor,” Rius said.
The Health Department’s Public Health Laboratory is capable of testing samples, she said, though without adding how long it would take to get results.
Pregnant women and gynecologists on the island say the results take up to two months.