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Haiti reports its first cases of mosquito-borne Zika virus

/ 09:21 AM January 16, 2016
Aedes albopictus mosquito

This 2003 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a female Aedes albopictus mosquito acquiring a blood meal from a human host. On Friday, Jan. 15, 2016, US health officials are telling pregnant women to avoid travel to Latin America and Caribbean countries with outbreaks of a tropical illness linked to birth defects. The Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites from Aedes aegypti and the CDC is investigating whether it is also spread by Aedes albopictus. The disease causes only a mild illness in most people. But there’s been mounting evidence linking the virus to a surge of a rare birth defect in Brazil. AP

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haiti is reporting its first cases of a mosquito-borne virus that is rapidly spreading in the Americas and is suspected of causing over 3,500 birth defects in Brazil.

Public Health Minister Florence Duperval Guillaume announced Friday that there have been five confirmed cases of the Zika virus in Haiti. She says they are all in the area of Port-au-Prince, the overcrowded capital.

READ: Virus that causes baby deformities found in dengue mosquitoes

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Zika is a dengue-like virus that causes a mild illness in most people. But growing evidence links it to a rare condition known as microcephaly, in which newborns are born with small heads. Brazil has been experiencing the largest known Zika outbreak and a surge of birth defects.

Many Haitians live in shacks with little protection from mosquitoes.

READ: El Salvador issues alert against illness-bearing mosquitoes

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TAGS: birth defects, Haiti, mosquito, Virus
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