(CNN)Puerto Rico has recorded 10,690 Zika cases including 1,035 pregnant women, prompting a declaration of a public health emergency in the commonweath by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The actual number of people infected with Zika in Puerto Rico is likely higher, officials said Friday, because most people with a Zika infection have no symptoms and might not seek testing.
“The current spread of Zika virus poses a significant threat to public health in the Commonwealth relating to pregnant women and children born to pregnant women with Zika,” HHS said in a statement.
The health emergency declaration allows Puerto Rico to apply for more federal resources to help fight the outbreak on the island.
“As the first virus that can be transmitted by mosquitoes known to cause severe birth defects, we are working closely with Puerto Rican officials to pursue solutions to fight the virus in Puerto Rico,” said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell.
Zika virus is known to cause microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defect in newborns and has been associated with other adverse pregnancy outcomes, including miscarriage, stillbirth, and serious neurological problems.
Officials are urging people to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Zika can also be passed through sex.