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Number Of Pregnant Women In US With Zika Spikes On New Counting Method

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The number of pregnant women in the United States infected with Zika virus is suddenly tripling, due to a change in how the government is counting cases.

Previously, officials had reported how many pregnant women had both Zika symptoms and positive blood tests. In a change announced Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will count all women who tested positive -- regardless of symptoms.

ZIKA INFORMATION FROM THE CDCBasics | FAQ | Info For Pregnant Women | Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment | More Info |  10 Facts About The Zika Virus

There are now 157 pregnant women infected with Zika in the 50 states, up from 48 last week.

The agency had worried that one type of blood test is too prone to giving a false positive test result if a women was infected with a different but similar virus.

The effects of Zika are not very severe for most adults, but for pregnant women, the virus can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly and other severe birth defects. Zika is commonly spread by mosquitoes and can also be contracted through sexual contact.

Earlier this week, the Senate voted decisively in favor of a bipartisan $1.1 billion measure to combat the Zika virus this year and next.

Meanwhile, local governments are doing their part to prevent an outbreak.

So far, there have been no locally transmitted cases of Zika in Westchester County or the U.S., but county health Commissioner Shirlita Amler is preparing, WCBS 880's Sean Adams reported.

"We know that residents traveling abroad will bring Zika back to Westchester. We know this because they already have," Amler said.

The fear is the Asian Tiger mosquito will soon transmit the virus, Adams reported.

"It has the potential to be passed on to the local mosquito population," Amler said.

The county will also be distributing free minnows to residents at the county airport on Friday and Saturday. The fish eat mosquito larvae in ponds and fountains.

"These minnows just love to eat mosquitoes," said County Executive Rob Astorino. "We've given out already 100 pounds of mosquito fighters."

Mosquitoes can breed in just a bottle cap full of water. Residents are being asked to clear out gutters, eliminate standing water and scrub surfaces that might collect water.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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