Updated 07:26 PM EDT, Sat, Aug 19, 2017
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Puerto Rico's Zika Virus Situation Worsens

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Brazil Faces New Health Epidemic As Mosquito-Borne Zika Virus Spreads Rapidly
RECIFE, BRAZIL - JANUARY 25: Estafany Perreira holds her nephew David Henrique Ferreira, 5 months, who has microcephaly, on January 25, 2016 in Recife, Brazil. In the last four months, authorities have recorded close to 4,000 cases in Brazil in which the mosquito-borne Zika virus may have led to microcephaly in infants. Microcephaly results in newborns with abnormally small heads and is associated with various disorders including decreased brain development. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Zika virus outbreak is likely to further spread in South, Central and North America. At least twelve cases of Zika in the United States have now been confirmed by the CDC. (Photo : Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The Zika virus might be having a hard time getting a grip in U.S. states, but one U.S. territory, Puerto Rico, has been hit hard by the notorious virus. According to officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, the U.S. territory is quickly becoming a hotbed for the Zika outbreak.

CDC Director Tom Frieden issued the first briefing about the Zika virus' spread in Puerto Rico about six weeks ago, and since that time, the virus has continued to spread, despite efforts to control it.

So far, the CDC has been made aware of more than a hundred cases of infection, 147 to be exact, with 107 of the cases being travel-related. As for the rest, the Zika virus was concluded to have been acquired locally.

As grim as the situation is, however, Frieden stated that considering the Zika outbreak so far, the fact that the spread of the virus has remained consistent is not very surprising at all.

"We anticipated that there would be continued rapid spread in places where the species that spreads it lives, including Puerto Rico, and that is what we've seen," he said.

The Zika virus has garnered worldwide notoriety due to its possible relation to a notorious birth defect, microcephaly, a condition wherein an infant is born with a brain that is not developed completely. Apart from microcephaly, the infection is also connected to Guillain-Barré syndrome, a condition that compromises the immune system.

Among those infected in Puerto Rico, at least five of them are pregnant women.

Despite the risks and the CDC being on overdrive in its battle against the spread of the virus, however, it seems like the population of the U.S. territory is not that gravely concerned about the virus at all. Monica Figueroa, a nurse in Bayamon, a San Juan suburb, who also happens to be more than five months pregnant, stated that though women like her are aware of the dangers of the virus, most are not really that worried.

"No one seems to be paying much attention to it," she said.

Regardless of this, however, the CDC, together with federal authorities, have remained vigilant in their attempts to combat the Zika virus. In high schools across the U.S. territory, screens are being installed on windows in order to protect students from the Aedes Aeygypti mosquito, which is known to carry and spread the virus.

With Puerto Rico currently embroiled in a financial crisis, however, even simple projects such as installing screens on windows become challenging. Help might be on the way, however, as the Obama administration has stated that it will be asking Congress for almost $500 million, in order to help Puerto Rico control and ultimately defeat the Zika outbreak. 

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