Canada reports first Zika-linked birth defect

A four-month-old baby in Brazil born with microcephaly.
A four-month-old baby in Brazil born with microcephaly.PHOTO: REUTERS

OTTAWA (AFP) - Canada on Friday (Aug 12) confirmed its first case of a birth defect related to the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said in a statement that the baby showed "severe neurological congenital anomalies."

The World Health Organisation included the occurence of "congenital malformation associated with a travel-related case of Zika virus infection" in its weekly Zika update.

The WHO did not say where the mother contracted the infection.

This is the second confirmed case of maternal-to-fetal transmission of the virus in Canada. A pregnant woman who was infected while traveling transmitted the virus to her baby, but the child appears to be healthy.

The Canadian public health agency said it is aware of 13 confirmed cases of the virus in pregnant women in this country.

No details on any of the cases were provided in order to protect the privacy of the families.

The total number of confirmed cases of the Zika virus in Canada, meanwhile, has risen to 205 as of Aug 11.

Two were the result of sexual transmission, while the remainder were travel-related.

Zika often causes no symptoms, but is particularly dangerous for pregnant women because it can lead to the birth defect microcephaly, in which infants are born with unusually small heads and deformed brains.