Updated 03:13 AM EST, Sat, Jan 22, 2022

Puerto Rico May Receive $250M from the Obama Administration to Fight Zika

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Puerto Rico will likely receive $250 million in federal funds from President Barack Obama's administration to combat the growing number of Zika cases in the Caribbean island.

Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico's representative in the United States Congress, announced on Monday that some of the money would fund improved health services for pregnant women, The Associated Press reported (via ABC News). He added that the money would also be used for the prevention and detection of Zika.

Obama's request for Puerto Rico is part of a $1.8 billion emergency funding for the Zika outbreak in the Latin American region, AP further reported.

The U.S. territory has declared a state of emergency last week as 22 confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne virus was reported, the news outlet noted. Among the patients is a pregnant woman in her first trimester and a man who developed a temporary paralysis condition called Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Zika is transferred by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and is suspected to be connected with microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with small heads and incomplete brain development.

Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla said that the State Emergency and Disaster Administration is forming a task force to address the crisis, which includes an outreach campaign aimed to educate people on Zika prevention tactics, RT reported.

The regional government has also ordered a price freeze on products such as condoms to prevent the disease's spread, the news outlet added.

Zika was originally believed to be only transferred through mosquitoes, but some cases have suggested that blood transfusion and sexual intercourse with an infected individual can also transmit the disease, according to RT.

"Our new guidance is that pregnant women should use condoms during sex or abstain if their partner has traveled to an area where Zika has been spreading," Dr. Tom Frieden told reporters in the U.S. on Friday, as quoted by RT.

Frieder also acknowledged the reports from Brazil claiming that traces of the virus were found in saliva and urine samples from patients with Zika, the news outlet noted. However, he said that more data is required for those findings, as well as the methodology behind the studies conducted.

"We're still learning more about [the virus in] saliva and how it works in the body," Frieden added, as quoted by RT. "There's been a total of three cases in the world literature of Zika being present in male secretions."

Puerto Rico's first reported case of Zika was in December 2015, according to Caribbean360.

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