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Three pregnant Florida women latest to test positive for Zika virus

Three pregnant women in Florida have tested positive for the Zika virus, the Florida Department of Health announced Wednesday.

The women had all traveled to countries where the virus is spreading quickly.

World health experts are investigating a possible link between the virus, which is typically spread by mosquitoes, and harm to unborn babies exposed during pregnancy. Hundreds of infants in Latin America born to women thought to have been infected with Zika have been born with microcephaly, a birth defect in which the head and brain are abnormally small, leading to severe developmental problems.

On Feb. 1, the World Health Organization declared the virus and its link to the birth defects a public health emergency. The virus is most often spread by mosquitoes, but this week federal health officials announced 14 new cases in the U.S. that were sexually transmitted.

The health department said it tested several pregnant women who had traveled to countries where the virus is spreading. Officials said tests confirmed the women "had a history with the virus."

The department said it is not disclosing the counties where the women live.

On Feb. 22, there were 28 reported cases of the Zika virus in Florida. Now, that number stands at 32. A new case was reported in Seminole County on Tuesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends women who are pregnant and may have been exposed to the Zika virus should get regular ultrasounds.

Women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant should avoid travel to Zika-affected areas, according to the CDC.

After learning of the cases involving pregnant women in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott requested 250 more test kits from the CDC be sent to the state.

The health department said of the 32 travel-related Zika cases in Florida, only three people still have symptoms, which usually last between seven and 10 days. They include rash, fever and joint pain. All the Florida cases were contracted outside of the United States.

Three of the infected are from Hillsborough County, still the only Tampa Bay county to report any infections.

Three pregnant Florida women latest to test positive for Zika virus 02/24/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 24, 2016 4:42pm]
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