U.S. health officials on Tuesday confirmed the first baby born with the Zika virus in a New Jersey hospital eliciting new fears regarding the ability for the disease to spread.
Fox News has reported that the child was born with the Zika virus linked to microcephaly. The birth defect is marked by a partially formed brain and one of the first reported cases in the U.S.
The mother, whose name has not been released, is 31-years-old and caught the virus in Honduras. On Friday, she was admitted to the E.R. at Hackensack University Medical Center, where she soon delivered the child. It has been reported that the woman was just vacationing in the United States. The baby has also been born with visual and intestinal issues.
The mother had a rash for approximately two days while in Honduras and showed no other symptomology until she arrived in the U.S.
Doctors Abdulla Al-Kahn and Alvarez, the chairperson of the obstetrics and gynecology department, a neonatologist, and infectious disease specialist, along with nursing staff, were all present for the birth.
The woman’s doctor in Honduras did suspect that the child had neurological complications, but the microcephaly was not confirmed until she was admitted to Hackensack University Medical Center.
According to Fox News, the woman’s aunt confirmed that the young mother is not emotionally well following the birth of her child.
Although this is the first birth reported with Zika-linked issues on the continental U.S., it is not the first case of the virus in the United States. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed back in February that a woman from Hawaii delivered a child with severe microcephaly linked to the Zika virus.
The birth defect, microcephaly, causes a baby’s head to be much smaller than average. The CDC reports that infants with this condition typically have smaller brains that are likely not adequately developed.
The birth defect is also linked to seizures, intellectual disability, hearing and vision problems, and issues with movement and balance, among other issues. The CDC reported back in April that the Zika virus has in fact been linked as a cause of microcephaly and other neurological defects in utero.
Pregnant women have been advised by the CDC to avoid travel in areas where Zika has become prevalent. The World Health Organization (WHO) even recommends that any woman planning a pregnancy should wait a minimum of eight weeks before conceiving if they or their partner either live in or are returning from Zika-prevalent areas.
Currently, no vaccine exists to prevent against the Zika virus; health professionals recommend that individuals wear long shirts and pants, and to practice mosquito control. The CDC has reported 591 cases of diagnosed Zika cases in the U.S. alone, all of which appear to be travel related. Those who have contracted the virus typically do not exhibit symptoms, but others have reported fever, rashes, red eyes, and joint pain.