Ecuador’s Ministry of Public Health reports that five pregnant women in Ecuador have contracted Zika virus. In total, the ministry says there are 84 confirmed cases in the country.
Based on cases in Brazil, Zika is suspected of causing birth defects, including microcephaly and Guillain Barré Syndrome in newborns.
Early tests on the pregnant women, who live in Los Rios and Pichincha Provinces, and in the Galapagos Islands, show no signs of fetal birth defects but the ministry said they will continue to monitor the pregnancies.
Zika infections have appeared in 11 of Ecuador’s 24 provinces, including Azuay (1), Chimborazo (1) Gold (3), Esmeraldas (2), Galapagos (2), Guayas (16), Los Rios (9), Manabi (25), Orellana (1) Pichincha (20), and Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas (4). In addition, there are 72 suspected cases that are currently being analyzed.
Of those infected, 43 are women and 41 men, the ministry says. Sixty-four cases were contracted in Ecuador while the other 20 contracted the disease in Colombia and Venezuela.
The health ministry says the number of infections in Ecuador is very low when compared with Colombia, which has an estimated 25,000 cases. Venezuela reports 10,000.
The Zika virus is spread by mosquitoes at elevations below 6,000 feet.