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ST. THOMAS — While the number of general confirmed Zika infection cases has slowed considerably in the USVI, cases in pregnant woman have steadily grown, with the latest D.O.H. report, issued Wednesday, revealing 17 new pregnant women confirmed cases week-over-week.
During the week of July 18, D.O.H.’s total pregnant women confirmed cases stood at 254. That number climbed to 271 — an increase of 17 new cases — during the week of July 25. The numbers have been particularly high in July, however D.O.H. has not issued a statement as to what has been causing the surge.
In May, D.O.H. made known that a child in the territory was born with the Zika-related birth defect microcephaly — the first and so far only recorded case in the U.S. Virgin Islands — which was confirmed by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) testing, according to D.O.H. Health officials did not reveal on which island the baby was born.
However, five percent of pregnant women with a confirmed Zika infection in the United States territories, went on to have a baby with a related birth defect, according to the most comprehensive report to date from federal officials.
The report, published on June 8 by the C.D.C. (via The New York Times), also provided for the first time preliminary estimates of this risk by trimester. Previously, there were not enough births following exposure to the Zika virus to make such estimates.
This new report reviewed nearly 2,550 cases of women with possible Zika virus infection who completed pregnancies — meaning they gave birth, miscarried or experienced stillbirth — from Jan. 1, 2016 to April 25, 2017.
Roughly 1,500 of those women had Zika infection actually confirmed by laboratory testing.
Eight percent of offspring of pregnant women in U.S. territories with a positive nucleic acid test for Zika infection in the first trimester had birth defects linked to the virus. By contrast, 5 percent of these infants did when infection occurred in the second trimester, and 4 percent in the third trimester.
This week saw only one confirmed case of the virus in the general category, which was recorded in St. Croix, bringing that island’s total to 251. The number of cases in St. Thomas and St. John remained steady week-over-week at 682 and 89 respectively.
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