The CDC on Friday recommended that pregnant women not travel to 14 countries because of the presence of the Zika virus in those nations. Babies with microcephaly can also have underdeveloped brains, which may lead to life-long developmental problems.
Hawaii health officials say a baby recently born with microcephaly at an Oahu hospital was infected with the Zika virus in utero.
The baby’s gender and name have not been released.
The Hawaii mother and baby are not infectious according to the state’s Department of Health, so there is no risk of transmission on the island.
“In this situation, an astute Hawaii physician recognized the possible role of Zika virus infection, immediately notified the Department of Health, and worked with us to confirm the suspected diagnosis”.
The level two travel alert applies to Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The Rio games are slated to run from August 5 to August 21.
In December, Brazil was the epicenter of a surge in newborn microcephaly, resulting in more than 2,400 cases and the unprecedented recommendation from health officials there that women don’t get pregnant.
And this past week, the CDC confirmed it had found evidence of the virus in the brains of two Brazilian infants with the condition who died shortly after birth. But in pregnant women, the virus can spread to the fetus and cause brain shrinkage or death. The CDC in particular cautioned pregnant women not to travel to those areas, as Zika has been linked to serious birth defects.
There have been 26 Zika infections diagnosed in the United States, dating back to 2007, CDC officials said Friday. Normally the country sees 150 cases annually. Epidemiologists pointed to warmer winters and wetter springs as some of the reasons behind recent outbreaks of West Nile virus and dengue fever in the United States. Physicians are required by the state to report any cases that may be the Zika virus or any of over 75 other reportable diseases. “That is, we now have cases of the virus being transmitted by mosquito bites that happened in Ecuadoran territory”, she told a press conference. These mosquitoes also transmit dengue fever and chikungunya. Adult female mosquitoes pick them up by biting one infected human, and then, some days later, after the virus has traveled from their gut to their salivary glands, they infect another human.
It can spread geographically when an infected person travels to a place where Aedes mosquitoes exist or when infected mosquitoes are relocated, for instance in shipped goods.
Most people infected with Zika virus don’t become ill. However, the baby’s condition was not known until birth.