CDC: Zika spreading rapidly in Puerto Rico

Jun 17, 2016, 3:36 PM EDT
Woodland Mosquito. (Source: Katja Schulz/flickr)
Woodland Mosquito. (Source: Katja Schulz/flickr)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that 1% of all Puerto Rico blood donations tested positive for the Zika virus, translating into as much as 2% of the population having been infected with the virus last week. NBC News reports:
"In coming months, it is possible that thousands of pregnant women in Puerto Rico will catch Zika," CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden said at a briefing for reporters.
"This could lead to dozens or hundreds of infants being born with microcephaly in the coming year."
The CDC started screening donated blood for Zika in April in Puerto Rico, the U.S. territory that's hardest hit by Zika. Any donations that test positive for the virus are thrown out.
The Zika Strategic Response Plan from July 2016 to December 2017 would place a greater focus on preventing and managing medical complications caused by Zika virus infection, requiring $121.9 million for its effective implementation, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Much has been learned about Zika virus infection [...] This Zika virus strain and its complications represent a new type of public health threat which requires a unique and integrated strategy that places support for women and girls of child-bearing age at its core,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan in a news release on the strategy.
The data come from a CDC report showing the percentage of Puerto Ricans who are testing positive for Zika during blood donor screening. The numbers are the closest approximation for a representative sampling of infection rates on the island as a whole. "These numbers are increasing faster than we had anticipated," Frieden said in a separate interview, referring to the blood-test results. He noted that Puerto Rico has not yet reached the typical peak of mosquito-fueled disease outbreaks, which occurs over the summer and into the fall.