TRENTON, N.J. (UPI) — A baby girl was born with the microcephaly birth defect on Tuesday in Hackensack, N.J., to a woman who was exposed to the Zika virus in her native country of Honduras.
This is the second recorded birth of a baby with Zika-related illnesses in the United States, the first in the continental United States.
“The mother, who is visiting the United States, is receiving exceptional care during this difficult time and we appreciate everyone respecting the mother’s privacy,” Hackensack University Medical Center spokesperson Nancy Radwin said in a statement.
The 31-year-old woman contracted the Zika virus while receiving prenatal care in Honduras. The woman’s mother, a microbiologist, gathered samples of her daughter’s blood after she noticed a rash developed from mosquito bites in her pregnant daughter. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the daughter contracted the Zika virus.
Doctors believe the baby girl was also born with intestinal and visual issues. Other than the rash that lasted two days, the mother showed no symptoms until arriving to the United States.
The Zika epidemic is blamed on the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which transmits the Zika virus — along with dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. Hospitalizations and fatalities due to Zika infection are rare, with symptoms such as rash and fever lasting from a few days to one week. The virus was first isolated from a monkey in Uganda’s Zika forest in 1947.
The Zika virus is also linked to microcephaly — a developmental defect resulting in a smaller-than-normal head or brain — in newborns. The first case of Zika in the United States was confirmed in Puerto Rico on Jan. 1, with the first baby with microcephaly born in the United States in Hawaii two weeks later.
The CDC has warned U.S. residents to avoid unnecessary travel to more than a dozen countries in Latin America, including Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico and Venezuela.
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