Report: 2 pregnant Utah women with Zika lost their babies

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — In the past five months, two pregnant women in Utah lost their babies in the first trimester after contracting Zika, according to a state health department report released Monday.

The report by Utah's department of health shows that since the beginning of last year, 11 pregnant women have contracted Zika in Utah.

Amy Steele, an epidemiologist at Utah's Department of Health, said eight of those pregnant women did not pass on the virus to their children and one woman left Utah and wasn't tracked.

The two women who did pass on Zika to their unborn babies were in their first trimester of pregnancy when they contracted the virus while traveling outside of the country.

"Two dying in the first trimester due to Zika seems to align with what they have found in Brazil and in the states," said Steele.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that between 2016 and 2017, there have been five cases of pregnancy losses with birth defects involving Zika in the U.S. It's not clear whether they used the same criteria or timeframe as Utah's department of health to measure these losses.

Officials with CDC were not immediately available.

Overall, the CDC reported more than 5,000 cases of Zika in the U.S. Most were travelers returning from affected areas, but about 220 people were infected by mosquitoes in Florida and Texas, and about 72 were infected in other ways, including sexual contact with an infected person.

In Utah, 29 people have contracted Zika since the beginning of 2016, according to Utah's department of health report. One of them was infected while in the state after touching his dad's tears or sweat while his father was infected.

The virus causes only a mild illness in most people. But during recent outbreaks in Latin America, scientists discovered that infection during pregnancy has led to severe brain-related birth defects.

Dallin Peterson, an epidemiologist at Utah's department of health, said the number of people who have contracted Zika has stayed relatively steady since they started keeping track of the virus, and he expects that people will continue to test positive within the coming months.

"I'm assuming it will continue, especially now that mosquito season is starting up in May," he said.

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