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Puerto Rico Reports First Zika-Linked Birth Defect

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May 13, 2016 -- Health officials in Puerto Rico announced Friday that they had confirmed the first birth defect in a fetus tied to maternal infection with the Zika virus.

Confirmation came from testing of fetal tissue which revealed the presence of the mosquito-borne virus, NBC News reported.

"CDC has confirmed the first case of Zika virus disease in a fetus in Puerto Rico," the agency said in a statement. "CDC conducted the laboratory test that confirmed the diagnosis and has shared the results with the Puerto Rico Department of Health."

Zika is known to be endemic in mosquitoes on the island, and more cases of birth defects such as microcephaly (too-small heads) in newborns are feared.

"This case of Zika virus disease in a pregnancy saddens and concerns us as it highlights the potential for additional cases and associated adverse pregnancy outcomes," the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

Few details were given about the reported case, and Puerto Rico officials did not reveal if the pregnancy ended in miscarriage or abortion, NBC News said.

"I want to urge any pregnant women with even the slightest concern of infection to go see a doctor," Puerto Rico Health Secretary Ana Rius said.

So far, Puerto Rico has recorded Zika infection in 18 pregnant women, as well as 27 cases of Zika infection where the person was sick enough to require hospitalization. The CDC says that 48 pregnant women in the United States have been confirmed to have a Zika infection, with 5 affected babies or fetuses being miscarried or having some evidence of birth defects such as microcephaly.

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