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U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to members of the media after receiving a briefing on the ongoing response to the Zika virus from members of his public health team, Friday, May 20, 2016, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington. Credit VOA

Federal health officials say the number of women in the United States with the Zika virus has more than doubled, due to a change in the way the cases are counted.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported Friday there are now 157 women infected with the virus in 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia and 122 cases in U.S. territories – mostly in Puerto Rico.


The latest numbers represent a significant increase from last week, when the CDC reported 113 women in all U.S. states and D.C. and 65 in U.S. territories.

Officials are now counting all pregnant women who test positive in the U.S. and its territories, whether or not they show symptoms. Previously, only pregnant women who had positive blood tests and Zika symptoms were counted.

The CDC said it changed its counting method out of concern that one type of blood test could produce false positive results if women were infected with a similar virus.

U.S. health experts have determined that the mosquito-borne virus can cause microcephaly, a birth defect that can result in severe brain abnormalities and developmental problems in babies.

The CDC said it dramatically ramped up its capacity to test for the Zika virus in preparation for the summer mosquito season.

This is the first time the agency had disclosed the number of infected pregnant women in the U.S. and and its territories.

In Washington, President Barack Obama received a briefing on Zika from members of his public health team.


Molecular evolution of Zika Virus during its emergence in 20th century. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

“We don’t know all of the potential effects; we do know they are serious. Right now what we have seen is a little over 500 cases of Zika in the continental United States and they all appear to be travel-related, not mosquito transmitted,” Obama said.

He also urged Congress to pass a bill to increase emergency funding to tackle Zika.

“Congress needs to get me a bill. It needs to get me a bill that has the sufficient funds to get me a job,” Obama said, adding that Zika ” is not something where we can build a wall to prevent—mosquitoes don’t go through customs.” (VOA)

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The aim of the book is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

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Delhi-based author Pritisha Borthakur is set to release her new book, 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories'. The 1,404-word children's book was put together to address a new kind of societal debacle in the family system. The author says the aim is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

The author who named the book after her twin sons -- Puhor and Niyor -- is a parent who has seen and heard the tales of ridicule and discrimination suffered by many in India and beyond. She says the book is an artistic illustration for kids that details how different families can live and coexist. Whether it's children with two dads or two moms, children with a single dad or single mom, and even multiracial family units, Borthakur's book teaches love, understanding, and compassion towards unconventional families.

Beyond race, gender, color, and ethnicity which have formed the bases for discrimination since the beginning of time, this book aims to bring to light a largely ignored issue. For so long, single parents have been treated like a taboo without any attempt to understand their situations; no one really cares how or why one's marriage ended but just wants to treat single parents as villains simply for choosing happiness and loving their children.

Homosexual parents, a relatively new family system, is another form that has suffered hate and discrimination for many years. Pritisha emphasizes the need to understand that diversity in people and family is what makes the world beautiful and colourful. 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race, and even differences in background

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