Pentagon: 33 American servicemembers have contracted Zika overseas
WASHINGTON – At least 33 active-duty servicemembers, including one pregnant woman, have contracted the Zika virus while serving overseas, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.
Six family members of servicemembers have also contracted the virus outside of the continental United States, said Army Maj. Roger Cabiness, a spokesman for the Defense Department. Those numbers were current as of Friday.
The virus has spread through much of Latin America and the Caribbean since its outbreak in Brazil in May 2015. Its connections to pregnancy defects, confirmed by scientists at the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have led the World Health Organization to declare it a global emergency. The Defense Department has taken steps to monitor and control the populations of mosquitos capable of carrying the virus, which are found at nearly 200 stateside installations from Texas in the west to Florida and as far north as New York, according to Pentagon information.
“DOD is actively testing mosquitoes for Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases in the U.S. as part of our ongoing integrated vector control and surveillance programs at bases and installations,” Cabiness said.
Most people who contract the virus will likely remain asymptomatic, according to the CDC, but “there is now enough evidence to conclude” that Zika can cause pregnancy complications that produce severe fetal abnormalities, including microcephaly, a rare condition that causes unusually small heads and lack of brain development in children.
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