US baby born with brain damage after Zika infection

Health officials fumigate the largest cemetery in Peru to prevent Chikunguya and Zika virus, which are affecting several South American countries.
Health officials fumigate the largest cemetery in Peru to prevent Chikunguya and Zika virus, which are affecting several South American countries.PHOTO: AFP

HONOLULU • A baby born with brain damage at a hospital in Hawaii was confirmed as having been infected by Zika, said the state's health department, in what seems to be the first case in the United States of the mosquito-borne virus.

The written statement said the mother was believed to have had a Zika infection while living in Brazil in May last year and the baby was probably infected in the womb.

"We are saddened by the events that have affected this mother and her newborn," said state epidemiologist Sarah Park in the statement.

On Friday, US health officials issued a travel warning for 14 countries and territories in the Caribbean and Latin America where infection with Zika is a risk.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) especially cautioned pregnant women, as Zika has been linked to birth defects.

The alert applies to Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela and the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

It also includes advice that those trying to become pregnant should consult their doctors before travelling to those areas.

In the Hawaii case, a doctor recognised the possibility of a Zika infection in the newborn and alerted officials, the health department said.

The infection was confirmed by a laboratory test run by the CDC.

Transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, Zika usually causes a mild illness with fever, rash and joint pain. There is no preventive vaccine or treatment, said the CDC.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2016, with the headline 'US baby born with brain damage after Zika infection'. Print Edition | Subscribe