Up to 270 babies may be born with Zika-related microphealy in Puerto Rico

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In Puerto Rico, up to 270 babies may be born with microcephaly, caused by Zika infections their mothers contracted during pregnancy, according to the Scientific American. The Puerto Rican Health Department and the CDC arrived at this number after examining the most recent data available on the Zika outbreak in the U.S. territory.

Last week, the HHS declared a public health emergency in Puerto Rico due to the current rate of Zika transmission on the island. The number of reported laboratory-confirmed Zika cases among Puerto Rico resident was 10,690 cases as of Aug. 12. Of that number, 1,035 cases involved pregnant women.

Using available data, the Puerto Rican Health Department and CDC projected that Zika will infect between 5,900 and 10,300 pregnant women in Puerto Rico during the initial phase of the outbreak, according to the report. CDC officials thus project that "between 100 to 270 cases of microcephaly might occur" within the next year.

Microcephaly is a condition in which infants are born with unusually small heads. While the aforementioned estimate gives an idea of the extent of microcephaly conditions, it does not indicate the entire scope of the Zika crisis in Puerto Rico, CDC officials note. Zika has been linked to several other birth defects, such as limb joint deformities and deafness, according to the report.

As of Aug. 17, 2,260 people in the United States have contracted the Zika infection, 529 of which are pregnant women, CDC estimates show.

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