Pregnant women with Zika triples in US after new counting method

anine Santos holds her 3-month-old son Shayde Henrique who was born with microcephaly while health workers visit her home in Joao Pessoa, Brazil, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. U.S. and Brazilian health workers knocked on doors in the poorest neighborhoods of one of Brazil's poorest states Tuesday in a bid to enroll mothers in a study aimed at determining whether the Zika virus is really causing a surge in birth defects. The teams started in Joao Pessoa, the capital of Paraiba state which is one of the epicenters of Brazil's tandem Zika and microcephaly outbreaks. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

NEW YORK (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.

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.

Zika can cause a birth defect called microcephaly and other brain abnormalities.

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