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1.6 million child-bearing women in Latin America could get Zika

27 July 2016

"All pregnant women in the United States and US territories should be assessed for possible Zika virus exposure at each prenatal care visit", reads a new memo the CDC released on Monday.

Switzerland's health authorities have registered 28 cases of the birth-defect causing Zika virus since the start of the year.

According to Reuters, U.S. health officials have warned that the virus can be transmitted through unprotected sex with an infected female partner.

"Sex includes vaginal, anal and oral sex, and may also include the sharing of sex toys", the CDC clarified.

The report included 49 cases of pregnant women experiencing different symptoms. Two other cases had been previously reported in Honduras. "Spain has 190 known Zika cases to date, according to the country's health ministry, 189 contracted overseas, while one case was sexually transmitted".

In a new study published Monday, British researchers out of the universities of Oxford and Notre Dame estimated that 1.6 million childbearing women in Central and South America could get infected. CDC officials said they'll continue to update the guidelines as new information becomes available.

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The money, coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a drop in the bucket compared with the $60 million being doled out countrywide to prevent the spread of the disease. It is also possible for the virus to be transmitted through menstrual blood.

To improve definitive diagnosis among pregnant women with Zika virus infection, the CDC therefore recommends extending the timeframe for real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) testing to 2 weeks and including rRT-PCR testing for some asymptomatic pregnant women.

But the virus also has been linked to a rare paralyzing condition called Guillain-Barre syndrome.

More than 50 countries have Zika travel warnings.

The CDC advises pregnant women not to travel to an area where Zika transmission is ongoing, and to use insect repellent and wear long trousers and long-sleeved shirts if they are in those areas.