Three babies infected with the mosquito-borne Zika virus have been born on the United States mainland, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Thursday, marking a new chapter in the expansion of the virus.
At least three other babies were lost or aborted because of Zika.
All total, 234 pregnant women – citizens and visitors – have been infected with Zika, the CDC reported. In Puerto and other U.S. territories, the number is 189.
Zika is spreading fast, and the CDC estimated that 20 percent of the population of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, is expected to catch the virus, The Washington Post reported.
Around 13 percent of pregnant women infected with Zika  give birth to babies with a rare birth defect called microcephaly. Microcephaly babies are born with severe brain damaged and deformed heads.
“What we’re seeing is a very consistent pattern underscoring the fact that Zika causes microcephaly and other severe brain abnormalities,” Denise Jamieson, the CDC’s chief of women’s health, said. “This highlights the importance of preventing unintended pregnancies, avoiding mosquito bites and for pregnant women to avoid traveling to areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission.”
CDC officials expect local cases of Zika to occur in the US because it spreads by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is found through the South, Southwest, Midwest, and as far north as New England and Southern Ontario.
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