February 5, 2016 / 5:50 PM / 3 years ago

Puerto Rico declares public health emergency over Zika virus

(Reuters) - Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla on Friday declared a public health emergency because of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, a government statement said.

Nancy Trinidad, who is 32 weeks pregnant, listens to the explanation of a doctor about how to prevent Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya viruses at a public hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico, February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Alvin Baez

Puerto Rican health officials have confirmed 22 cases, including a pregnant woman and a man with Zika who developed Guillain-Barre syndrome, a separate government statement said. Guillain-Barre is a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the nerves.

A flyer that reads, "Questions and answers: Zica virus infection during pregnancy" is seen posted outside a doctor's office, at a public hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico, February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Alvin Baez

Health authorities would track the Zika cases and report results weekly, the government said.

The virus is having an impact on tourism, with some tourist groups canceling reservations, particularly weddings in hotels on the Caribbean island. There were no reports of conventions being canceled, the statement said.

Puerto Rico reported its first case of Zika in December, the virus having emerged at a difficult time for the U.S. territory as it tries to resolve an economic and fiscal crisis. The island, struggling to restructure its debt, will run out of fiscal emergency measures by June, the Government Development Bank president said on Friday.

Additional reporting by a contributor in San Juan

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