One Zika patient's newborn had serious birth defects (microcephaly, currently the major hallmark of the Zika virus), while two others delivered healthy infants.
The CDC said that between August 2015 and Feb. 10, it has received over 257 requests for Zika testing of expecting women in the U.S. Ninety-seven percent of those individuals tested negative for the disease, though the organization has been tracking nine pregnant women who tested positive for it. All the women began reporting symptoms of the disease after traveling to a country affected with the virus, a figure that currently sits at over 24.
One of the women, in her 30s, elected to have an abortion after a 20-week ultrasound revealed that her fetus was suffering from severe brain abnormalities. Of the two women who suffered miscarriages, the CDC said they could not determine whether the virus caused the pregnancy loss.
The virus's spread through Latin America, where abortion laws are especially restrictive, has reignited the debate over birth control in the region. In El Salvador, where abortion is banned, the country's health minister has argued for a change to the law, and in Colombia and Brazil, efforts to lift restrictions for abortions have met with strong resistance from religious authorities, The Washington Post reports.
Pope Francis recently said that there may be a precedent for allowing the use of contraceptives in combating the Zika virus, citing Pope Paul VI's decision in the 1960s to allow nuns in the Belgian Congo to use contraception because they were consistently the victims of rape.
Authorities are coming closer to announcing a definitive link between the virus's and microcephaly in infants (as well as a rare autoimmune disorder called Guillain-Barré syndrome). "The evidence every week is accumulating and getting stronger and stronger," Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told lawmakers at a Senate hearing earlier this week, according to The Washington Post.