More bad news on the Zika front: A pregnant woman from Connecticut tested positive for the Zika virus after returning from a recent visit to Central America. The woman, who hasn’t been named, is 11 weeks pregnant and apparently conceived on her trip. She had been away in Central America for close to two months, and came down with a fever and rash — typical Zika symptoms — toward the end of her stay, in mid-March. She got tested for the virus when she returned to Connecticut.
Two other people in Connecticut have already tested positive for the Zika virus, but this case is more alarming. Zika can cause serious pregnancy complications and severe birth defects like microcephaly, which shrinks the heads and brains of babies and leads to developmental disabilities. Most people get the virus from the bite of a certain species of mosquito, but Zika can also live in blood and sperm, so it’s possible to contract it through sex. The CDC and pretty much every health department in the U.S. is warning people who are or plan to become pregnant to stay far away from parts of the Caribbean and Central and South America, where these mosquitoes are hanging out in warmer climes — or to at least use condoms during and after traveling to such Zika hot spots.
It’s unclear which Central American country this woman visited or exactly how she contracted the virus. She’s originally from the region and returned there after her diagnosis, but the Connecticut Department of Health and her doctor are trying to keep tabs on her to make sure she has access to medical care. As of April, a total of 36 pregnant women across all 50 states had tested positive for Zika, with all cases linked to travel.