The Dominican Republic announced Saturday that the Zika virus has spread to that country after 10 people tested positive for the disease, already detected in several other countries of the region.

The Dominican Public Health Ministry announced that the 10 confirmed cases of the virus were detected in a group of 17 samples sent to be analyzed at a foreign laboratory.

Public Health Minister Altagracia Guzman Marcelino told a press conference that the first people affected by the fever in the country live in the National District, the Santo Domingo Norte municipality, as well as in Barahona in the southwest and Jimani in the west on the Haitian border.

The official said that eight of the 10 cases are people between ages 15-57, while the other two are children under age 5.

The minister said that those infected with the disease have not been isolated in a medical center but are rather being given outpatient treatment.

The authorities repeated their call to pregnant women to take all the hygienic and precautionary measures to avoid contagion with the virus.

During a meeting of the National Commission for the Control of Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika earlier this week, Guzman Marcelino said that an ever clearer relationship is being established between the virus and the incidence of babies being born with abnormally small skulls, a condition known as microcephaly.

The Zika virus causes, among other symptoms, fever, non-purulent conjunctivitis, headaches, joint pain, and also the inflammation of various parts of the body, and in some cases causes vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

The illness is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same that carries dengue and Chikungunya fever, ailments that are also afflicting the Dominican population. EFE