By Sarah Ferris - 02/11/16 01:11 PM EST
Two American women have had miscarriages after being infected with the Zika virus while traveling abroad, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Thursday.
The two miscarriages are the first linked to the Zika virus in the U.S., CDC spokesman Tom Skinner confirmed to The Hill on Thursday. The virus was found in the women's placentas, he said.
The pair of miscarriages is likely to raise the level of fear within the U.S., which had seen a total of 51 cases — including one pregnant woman — as of last week.
One other baby was born with a birth defect to a Zika-infected mother in Hawaii last month. The condition, called microcephaly, causes a baby to be born with an abnormally small head and can be life-threatening.
The mosquito-borne virus, which has spread rapidly in countries from Mexico to Brazil, has been linked to thousands of birth defects.
Scientists at the CDC have not yet confirmed the correlation but have urged women who are pregnant or may become pregnant not to travel to the region.
The CDC has warned pregnant women not to travel to about 25 countries. Last week, the CDC issued new guidance telling pregnant women to consider avoiding sex with their partner if he has traveled abroad because the virus can be spread through sexual contact.