New York City has its first confirmed case of a baby born with Zika-related birth defects. The Department of Health said Friday that a mother infected with the Zika virus gave birth to a newborn with microcephaly, a disorder that shrinks the heads and brains of babies and can stunt development.
The mother contracted the mosquito-borne virus after traveling to a Zika-infected zone. She and the baby, which tested positive for Zika, are being monitored at the hospital. “The City has been preparing for this scenario for many months now, and we stand ready to help families caring for an infant with microcephaly,” Dr. Herminia Palacio, the deputy mayor for health and human services, said. “This case is a sad reminder that Zika can have tragic consequences for pregnant women.”
A total of 41 pregnant women have tested positive for the Zika virus in New York City so far. None of these cases involve local transmission, meaning most traveled to Latin America or another Zika hot spot and became infected there. (The disease is also transmittable through sperm or blood — though officials in Utah are investigating a case that doesn’t fit either mode.) The CDC is trying to figure out if two people infected in Florida did get Zika after being bitten by a local mosquito that carried the disease; if so, that would be the first such case in the continental United States and extremely bad news for everyone. In January, a Hawaiian baby born with brain damage was the United States’ first Zika-related birth, and last month, a mother from Honduras gave birth to a baby girl with Zika-related microcephaly at a New Jersey hospital. A total of 12 babies have been born with Zika-linked birth defects, not including those miscarried or aborted midterm. The CDC says 400 pregnant women have tested positive for Zika in the United States so far — not including Puerto Rico or other U.S. territories, which have 378 reported Zika pregnancies.