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    Cuba reports first case of Zika contracted in the country
    HAVANA

    Cuba’s Health Ministry on Tuesday reported the first case of Zika
    contracted in the country, in a 21-year-old woman living in central
    Havana and who had not been overseas.

    Cuba’s four previous cases of Zika all involved people who had
    contracted the virus while abroad.

    Cuba reported its first case of Zika on March 2, making it one of the
    last countries in the Americas to encounter the virus. All four of the
    previous cases occurred in people who contracted Zika in Venezuela.

    The Cuban woman first reported symptoms on March 7 and was hospitalized
    two days later, the Health Ministry said in a statement read on state
    television. The woman was diagnosed on Monday and remains in the
    hospital, without symptoms, the statement said.

    Zika, which is carried by mosquitoes that transmit the virus to humans,
    has been linked to thousands of birth defects in Brazil that is
    spreading through Latin America and the Caribbean.

    The World Health Organization declared the Zika outbreak an
    international health emergency on Feb. 1, citing a “strongly suspected”
    relationship between Zika infection in pregnancy and microcephaly, a
    birth defect marked by abnormally small head size that can result in
    developmental problems.

    However, much remains unknown about Zika, including whether the virus
    actually causes microcephaly in babies.

    Brazil said it has confirmed more than 740 cases of microcephaly, and
    considers most of them to be related to Zika infections in the mothers.
    Brazil is investigating more than 4,200 additional suspected cases of
    microcephaly.

    More than a dozen cases of sexual transmission in the United States and
    France, and one case of suspected transmission through a blood
    transfusion in Brazil, raise questions about other ways that Zika may
    spread.

    There is no vaccine or treatment.

    The Cuban government, which has fumigated neighborhoods and homes for
    decades to contain dengue, another mosquito-borne illness, put doctors
    on alert for the virus weeks ago and ramped up mosquito eradication
    efforts in neighborhoods in expectation of Zika’s inevitable arrival.

    President Raul Castro on Feb. 22 ordered 9,000 active-duty officers and
    reserves plus 200 police officers to join the prevention effort and
    asked all Cubans to clean up potential environments for the Aedes genus
    of mosquitoes.

    (Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler)

    Source: Cuba reports first case of Zika contracted in the country |
    Reuters – www.reuters.com/article/us-health-zika-cuba-idUSKCN0WI01Y

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