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CDC: Pregnant women should consider not going to Rio Olympics due to Zika

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NEW YORK (AP) — Zika infections have been confirmed in nine pregnant women in the United States, including one who gave birth to a baby with a rare birth defect, health officials said Friday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it’s investigating 10 more reports of pregnant travelers with Zika. All got the virus while visiting or living in places with Zika outbreaks.

Also on Friday, the CDC issued a caution to people planning to attend the Olympics this summer in Rio de Janeiro.

The U.S. cases add to reports out of Brazil. Officials there are exploring a possible link to babies born with unusually small heads, a rare birth defect called microcephaly, which can signal underlying brain damage.

Zika has become epidemic in Latin America and the Caribbean since last fall. The virus, mainly spread through mosquito bites, causes mild illness or no symptoms in most people.

Since August, the CDC has tested 257 pregnant women for Zika; eight were positive, and a state lab confirmed a ninth.

– Three of the women have delivered babies; two of the newborns are apparently healthy, and one was born with microcephaly.

– Two had miscarriages, but it’s unknown if the Zika infection was the cause.

– Two women had abortions, one after scans showed the fetus had an undeveloped brain. Details were not provided for the second case.

– Two pregnancies are continuing with no reported complications.

Five of the women had Zika symptoms in the first trimester, including the miscarriages, abortions and newborn with microcephaly.

In its report Friday, the CDC did not give the women’s hometowns; state health officials have said there were two pregnant women with Zika in Illinois, three in Florida and one in Hawaii, who gave birth to a baby with microcephaly. That mother had lived in Brazil early in her pregnancy.

The CDC said all are U.S. residents, but it declined to answer a question on their citizenship.

The health agency said the nine women had been to places with Zika outbreaks – American Samoa, Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Samoa.

Those destinations are among the 30 places now on the CDC’s travel alert. It recommends that pregnant women postpone trips to those areas.

While the link between Zika and the birth defect has not been confirmed, the possibility has prompted health officials to take cautionary steps to protect fetuses. That includes advice that Zika-infected men who have pregnant partners use condoms or abstain from sex.

In new guidance issued Friday night, the CDC addressed people planning to travel to Brazil for the 2016 Olympic Games in August and the 2016 Paralympic Games in September. The agency again advised that pregnant women consider not going and that their male sexual partners use condoms after the trip or abstain from sex during the pregnancy.

Women who are trying to become pregnant should talk to their doctors before making the trip, the CDC advised.

The CDC also recommends that all travelers use insect repellent while in Zika outbreak areas and continue to use it for three weeks after travel in case they might be infected but not sick. That’s to prevent mosquitoes from biting them and possibly spreading Zika to others in the U.S. The type of mosquito that spreads Zika is in parts of the South.

The CDC has set up a voluntary registry to collect information about Zika-infected women and their babies. Officials also have made Zika a reportable disease.

Research also is underway into a possible link between Zika and a paralyzing condition in adults called Guillain-Barre.

The CDC on Friday also updated its investigation into 14 cases of possible sexual transmission of Zika from male travelers to their sex partners in the United States. Two cases have been confirmed, four more are probable and two have been dropped, the report said.

Zika is primarily spread by mosquito bites, and transmission through sex was thought to be extremely rare. It’s been surprising that this many instances appear to have happened in the United States, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden noted during a call with reporters.

Similarly, the number of U.S. cases involving evidence of microcephaly or brain abnormalities “is greater than we would have expected,” said the CDC’s Dr. Denise Jamieson.

So far, 107 travel-related Zika infections have been diagnosed in 24 states and the District of Columbia, including the pregnant woman.

MORE: Zika will be ‘way down’ before Olympics, UN says

French Open: Karolina Pliskova, top player sans Slam, again exits early

Karolina Pliskova
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No. 2 seed Karolina Pliskova exited yet another Grand Slam in the early stages, falling to 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in the second round at Roland Garros on Thursday.

Ostapenko, whose only match wins at the French Open before this week came in her title run three years ago, bounced the big-serving Czech 6-4, 6-2.

Pliskova put fewer than half of her first serves in play, while Ostapenko fired 27 winners to 19 unforced errors. Pliskova was on the ropes in her first round, too, needing three sets to get past an Egyptian qualifier.

“Maybe same level as the match before, but of course [Ostapenko] is much better player,” Pliskova said. “Not much to say about this match.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Later Thursday, top-ranked Novak Djokovic had a second straight win ceding just five games, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 over Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis. Djokovic undefeated in 2020 save his U.S. Open default for smacking a ball that inadvertently struck a linesperson, next gets Colombian lucky loser Daniel Elahi Galán.

Nobody else in Djokovic’s half of the draw at the start of the tournament made a French Open semifinal before.

Pliskova is the highest-ranked player of either gender (No. 4) without a Grand Slam title, yet hasn’t made it past the fourth round at a major since the 2019 Australian Open.

She’s played six Slams as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed, one shy of Caroline Wozniacki‘s total before she broke through at the 2018 Australian Open and two shy of Simona Halep‘s total before she won the 2018 French Open.

Ostapenko, meanwhile, is having a very different career.

She won the 2017 Roland Garros title, two days after turning 20, while ranked 47th. She hasn’t gotten past the third round of a major since 2018 Wimbledon, including first-round French Open exits the last two years, and is back down to No. 43 in the WTA rankings.

“It’s hard to compare with 2017. As I said, it was like three years ago, and I was much younger, and also I was fearless. Nobody knew me,” Ostapenko said. “The world doesn’t stop with winning only one Grand Slam. Of course I want to achieve more, and I want to be back in top five, top 10.”

She dropped just nine games in four sets this week.

Ostapenko gets 87th-ranked Spaniard Paula Badosa in third round. Badosa dispatched 2018 French Open runner-up Sloane Stephens 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

MORE: Serena Williams ‘struggling to walk’

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Figure skating’s Grand Prix fields look very different this season

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Before Nathan Chen is expected to go for a historic fifth straight U.S. figure skating title in January, he will, in a first, compete against most of his top countrymen later this month.

Fields for the Grand Prix Series, figure skating’s autumn international circuit, were published Thursday. As expected, every top skater entered will compete in his or her home country, or nearest to where he or she trains, and in one of the six events.

Traditionally, skaters compete in two of the six events and are scattered among competitions in the U.S., Canada, France, Russia, China and Japan based on world rankings.

But the International Skating Union restricted travel this season due to the coronavirus pandemic. Skaters are limited to compete locally. And the Grand Prix Final at the conclusion of the Grand Prix Series has been postponed from its scheduled December setting in Beijing.

That means that Chen vies for a record-tying fourth straight Skate America crown in Las Vegas in three weeks against a field mostly made up of countrymen, including Olympic teammate Vincent Zhou and U.S. bronze medalist Tomoki Hiwatashi.

In all, there are eight U.S. men entered in Skate America, 11 women (including past national champions Bradie Tennell and Gracie Gold), six pairs and nine ice dance couples (including U.S. champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue), plus some skaters from other nations who train in the U.S.

Traditionally, a country has no more than three entries per discipline at a Grand Prix event.

GRAND PRIX FIELDS: Men | Women | Pairs | Ice Dance

Sochi Olympian Jason Brown, who trains in Toronto, is entered in Skate Canada the week after Skate America.

Two-time U.S. women’s champion Alysa Liu will not be old enough for the Grand Prix Series until the 2021-22 Olympic season.

All of the reigning Olympic champions are absent from the series.

Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan previously announced he wouldn’t compete due to virus-related travel risks. Russian Alina Zagitova extended her indefinite break from competition dating to last autumn, rather choosing to participate in a skating-themed TV series.

Ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada retired. The German pairs’ team of Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot last competed in the 2018 Olympic season.

Instead, the headliners include Chen, the two-time world champion undefeated since placing fifth in PyeongChang. And a deep crop of Russian teenage women, all of course entered in the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow in November.

MORE: Brian Orser reacts to Yevgenia Medvedeva’s coaching switch

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