Health and Science

Zika expected to infect 1 in 5 in Puerto Rico

In this Feb. 24, 2016 photo, an employee with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tests human blood samples for Zika at the CDC's dengue lab in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Danica Coto | AP

One in 5 people in Puerto Rico could become infected with Zika virus by the end of this year — and with the start of the April rainy season looming, time is running out to stem the spread of the disease, The Washington Post reports.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is stepping up efforts to protect thousands of pregnant women at risk in Puerto Rico, the most affected area of the U.S., the Post said. But it will be daunting to stop the mosquito- and human-spread virus, which has been liked with severe birth defects, experts told the Post.

The island faces serious challenges, with poverty keeping many residents from basic preventative measures like window screens and health care, the Post reports. That's in combination with a high teenage pregnancy rate, drug-resistant mosquitoes and ample sources of standing water to breed disease-ridden larvae, according to the Post.

The CDC is sending extra staff to monitor the public health emergency, increase testing and give out prevention kits. But for scared expecting mothers who are already infected, the options are limited.

Click here to read The Washington Post story.