First baby with Zika Virus-related microcephaly born in Florida
The Florida Department of Health announced on Tuesday that there has been the first confirmed case of microcephaly in a baby born in Florida. The location of the birth was not disclosed.
The newborn’s mother had a travel-related case of Zika contracted while in Haiti. Although the Zika virus pandemic has afflicted much of Latin America and the Caribbean and is most likely to gain a foothold in the continental U.S. through Florida this summer, President Barack Obama and Congress have not enacted any travel restrictions from those countries.
“The Olympics will begin in less than 40 days and millions of Americans will travel through our state to and from Brazil, a country where the Zika virus is rapidly spreading, and we must be prepared,” said Florida Governor Rick Scott in response to the first confirmed case.
“Now that a baby has been born in our state with adverse impacts from Zika, it is clear that every available resource is needed to prevent local transmissions in our state.”
While local transmissions have not occurred in the Sunshine State, local transmissions are possible if a Zika infected visitor or returning traveler is bitten by Florida mosquitoes that then spread the virus to other people they bite.
A recent NASA study predicts that locally acquired outbreaks are most likely to occur in Florida during July during peak mosquito and travel season.
The Zika virus is spread by bites from two mosquito species: Aedes aegypti (primarily) and Aedes albopictus, both found in Florida. In addition to the Zika virus, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can also transmit dengue fever, Chikungunya virus, West Nile virus, and Yellow Fever.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, babies born with the Zika virus transmitted from their mothers who contracted the disease while pregnant have developed microcephaly – a disease which causes the babies’ brains and heads to shrink. Women who are pregnant or could become pregnant should avoid travel to Zika-affected areas.
Florida’s Department of Health is now working with the family to connect the child to services through Florida’s Early Steps program.