- Associated Press - Friday, February 5, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - The Latest on efforts to battle the Zika virus (all times local):

6:00 p.m.

Puerto Rico’s governor has declared a health emergency as more Zika-related cases emerge across the U.S. territory.

Alejandro Garcia Padilla said Friday that federal authorities are helping develop an education campaign and prevention strategies. He said the territorial government also has frozen prices on condoms after two known cases of sexual transmission of the virus in Texas.

Puerto Rico this week reported its first case of a pregnant woman with Zika and its first case of a man diagnosed with Zika who developed Guillain-Barre syndrome, which can cause temporary paralysis.

Puerto Rico has 22 confirmed Zika cases.


5:00 p.m.

A spokesman says the U.N. secretary-general supports the U.N. human rights chief’s call for an urgent review of laws restricting access to sexual and reproductive health services amid the Zika outbreak.

Spokesman Farhan Haq says Ban Ki-moon believes that “women must have a meaningful way of controlling their own decisions on whether and when and how to be pregnant.”

Haq adds that “ultimately, we have to make sure that women have sufficient control over their lives and their own decision-making.”

U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein earlier Friday said laws and policies that restrict access to birth control services must be repealed amid the outbreak of Zika, which is suspected of causing birth defects.


4:30 p.m.

President Barack Obama’s allies in the Senate are urging him to ramp up the government’s response to the outbreak of the Zika virus in the Americas and the potential for its widening spread in the United States.

All 44 Senate Democrats and two independents sent Obama a letter urging him to use money from last year’s government-wide spending bill to come up with a comprehensive response plan to combat Zika, both overseas and in the U.S.

They say he should add money to his upcoming budget request if necessary and that curbing the virus abroad is one of the best ways to limit its spread in the U.S.

The Zika virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and is suspected of links to a condition that can have devastating effects on unborn children.


4:00 p.m.

Colombian health officials say three people there have died of the Guillain-Barre syndrome after contracting the Zika virus.

National Health Institute Director Martha Lucia Ospina says that all three people who died of the rare syndrome that can completely paralyze were confirmed to have been infected with Zika.

Ospina says the cases confirm that Zika can cause deaths - though most international experts are still cautious about whether Zika can trigger Guillain-Barre. Other infections and conditions can lead to the syndrome.

Colombia has reported more than 20,000 Zika cases.


2:15 p.m.

U.S. health officials say men who have visited an area with the Zika virus should use condoms if they have sex with a pregnant woman - for the entire duration of the pregnancy.

The guidance issued Friday also says men might consider abstaining or using condoms even if they have sex with a woman who isn’t pregnant.

Zika virus disease is mainly spread by mosquitoes. In most people it causes mild or no symptoms. But it has become a concern because of a possible link with a birth defect in Brazil.

Officials previously recommended pregnant women postpone trips to more than two dozen countries with Zika outbreaks, mostly in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The new guidance is based on two known cases of sexual transmission of the virus


1:35 p.m.

Now Brazilian officials are saying that pregnant women should think twice before giving a kiss - especially to strangers.

The president of Brazil’s top health research agency says the discovery of active Zika virus in saliva merits special precaution with pregnant women because of suspected links between Zika and birth defects.

Paulo Gadelha suggested pregnant women avoid kissing people other than a regular partner or sharing cutlery, glasses and plates with people who have symptoms of the virus.

He adds, though: “This is not a generalized public health measure, for the love of God.”

Scientists at the Fiocruz institute say they’re trying to determine if the body fluids can spread Zika to new patients.


12:35 P.M.

The head of a top Brazilian health research institute says its scientists have discovered the presence of active Zika virus in urine and saliva samples.

Paulo Gadelha says that the virus’s ability to infect other people through the two body fluids requires further study.

However he says that the discovery calls for special precaution to be taken with pregnant women. Brazilian researchers have pointed to a suspected link between pregnant women’s infection with the virus and a rare birth defect in babies.

Gadelha says the discovery does not yet merit any additional health recommendation

He spoke Friday at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro.


11:34 a.m.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights says laws and policies that restrict access to birth control services must be repealed amid the explosive outbreak of the Zika virus in the Americas, which has been linked to an increase in the number of babies born with abnormally small heads.

In a statement issued on Friday, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said the advice of some governments to women to delay getting pregnant “ignores the reality” that many women have little control over the circumstances in which that happens.

To date, the mosquito-borne virus has spread to more than 20 countries in the Americas, including some where sexual violence is rampant, Al Hussein said. He called for laws restricting access to sexual and reproductive health services to be urgently reviewed.

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