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Pregnant ND woman contracts Zika virus in Puerto Rico

BISMARCK - North Dakota health officials report that a woman who traveled to Puerto Rico while pregnant has tested positive for Zika virus. Although the virus is associated with microcephaly, an abnormally small head that can affect brain develop...

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An aedes aegypti mosquito is seen inside a test tube as part of a research on preventing the spread of the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases at a control and prevention center in Guadalupe, neighbouring Monterrey, Mexico, in this March 8, 2016 file photo. To match Insight HEALTH-ZIKA/NERVES REUTERS/Daniel Becerril/Files

BISMARCK โ€“ North Dakota health officials report that a woman who traveled to Puerto Rico while pregnant has tested positive for Zika virus.

Although the virus is associated with microcephaly, an abnormally small head that can affect brain development, and other birth defects, those have not been found in the infant, according to the state Department of Health. "Pregnant women should not travel to countries with Zika transmission, and if they must travel, be extremely careful to avoid mosquito bites," said Laura Conquist, a state epidemiologist.

The Centers for Disease Control recently confirmed that Zika virus during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects in infants," she said.

"Couples trying or planning to become pregnant should talk with their health care provider about their travel plans," Cronquist said.

Zika virus is mainly spread through the bite of an Aedes species mosquito, and can be passed from an infected mother to her fetus. The virus also can be transmitted sexually from a man to his sex partners.

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As a result, health officials advise men returning from Zika-affected areas who have a pregnant sexual partner to abstain from sexual activity or use condoms for all sexual contact during pregnancy. Men diagnosed with Zika or who have symptoms of Zika after returning from a Zika-affected area with non-pregnant sexual partners also should consider abstaining or properly using condoms for all sexual contact for at least six months after symptoms began.

"The mosquitoes in North Dakota do not spread Zika virus, so our prevention efforts are focused on raising awareness about the risk of travel-associated and sexually transmitted Zika virus infections," Conquist said.

More information about Zika virus, including an up-to-date list of destinations with confirmed Zika transmission, can be found online at www.ndhealth.gov/disease/zika .

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