New York reports first baby born with Zika-related defect

New York City on Friday announced its first baby born with Zika-related microcephaly, a permanent brain and skull defect that authorities said the child acquired due to infection with the mosquito-borne virus.

The infant's mother was infected with Zika "while in an area with ongoing Zika transmission," and the baby "is positive for Zika," said the New York City Department of Health.

As of mid-July, there had been 12 cases of infants born with Zika-related defects in the United States, according to the latest figures from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In New York City, officials said more than 41 pregnant women have tested positive for the Zika virus, which can cause microcephaly, a condition in which the child is born with a head that is smaller than normal.

"While not surprising, given the travel trends of our global city, this case is a strong reminder of the tragic consequences of the Zika virus," said New York City Health Commissioner Mary Bassett.

"I remind all in New York City, and those trying to get pregnant, that they should delay travel to places where there is active Zika transmission. As we see today, the consequences for the child can be devastating," she said.

Zika can be spread via bites from an infected mosquito, or by sexual contact with a person who is ill with the virus.

The Zika outbreak has spread through much of South and Central America and the Caribbean, as well as the US territory of Puerto Rico, and is blamed for more than 1,000 confirmed cases of microcephaly in Brazil.

So far, all known cases of Zika on the US mainland have been brought in by travelers or acquired through sex with infected travelers.

US health officials recently reported a total of 1,306 cases of Zika in the continental United States and Hawaii.

Florida is currently investigating two possible cases of non-travel-associated Zika.

© 2016 AFP

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