Baby with Zika-linked birth defect born in Spain

An infected Aedes aegypti mosquito can transmit the Zika virus to humans through its bite. This is especially risky for pregnant women, as the virus can cause birth defects such as microcephaly in newborns.
An infected Aedes aegypti mosquito can transmit the Zika virus to humans through its bite. This is especially risky for pregnant women, as the virus can cause birth defects such as microcephaly in newborns.PHOTO: REUTERS

First case of its kind in Europe, says hospital; Visitors travelling to Brazil for Olympics face a small risk of catching virus: Researchers

MADRID • A woman infected with the Zika virus has given birth to a baby with microcephaly in Barcelona, Spain, in what is probably the first case of its kind in Europe, according to the hospital where the infant was born.

The woman is believed to have caught the Zika virus while travelling in Latin America, the region where Zika has spread most widely. She was not identified, and her exact itinerary was not disclosed.

Microcephaly, a brain-damaging disorder, was diagnosed after the baby was born on Monday with a head circumference that is smaller than the norm, said Dr Felix Castillo, neonatal chief at the Vall d'Hebron hospital, Barcelona.

The Zika virus has caused more than 1,500 cases of birth defects, mostly in Brazil, where the epidemic began last year.

The doctor did not specify how much the circumference was below normal measurements, but for microcephaly to be diagnosed, a baby's head needs to be significantly smaller than normal.

The baby's gender was not given, for privacy reasons. The infant was born by caesarean section after 40 weeks of pregnancy.

Dr Castillo said the baby "did not require any resuscitation" and the child's vital signs were "normal and stable", although the newborn will be put under close monitoring to identify other possible defects.

The mother was in good health, and both parents were "very happy", said the hospital's head of obstetrics, Dr Elena Carreras.

The health authorities in Barcelona announced in May they had detected microcephaly in the foetus.

In an earlier European case, in Slovenia, a Zika-infected mother apparently decided to have an abortion after learning that her foetus showed signs of microcephaly.

The Zika virus has caused more than 1,500 cases of birth defects, mostly in Brazil, where the epidemic began last year.

The virus is known to be transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and through sex, although a recent case in Utah, in the United States, seemed to show no clear link to either a mosquito or having sex.

Those travelling to Brazil for the Olympics face a small risk of getting infected with the virus, US researchers said on Monday.

Under a worst-case scenario, just three to 37 of the up to 500,000 people expected to go to Rio de Janeiro for the Games could be expected to come down with Zika, said the report by the Yale University School of Public Health.

NEW YORK TIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2016, with the headline 'Baby with Zika-linked birth defect born in Spain'. Print Edition | Subscribe