Infant With Zika-Related Birth Defect Dies In Texas

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images.
The first Zika-related fatality has been reported in Texas, according to the Associated Press. An infant girl, whose mother traveled to El Salvador while pregnant, died in Houston shortly after her birth a few weeks ago.

"We are devastated to report our first case of Zika-associated death and our hearts go out to the family," Umair Shah, MD and executive director of Harris County Public Health told the AP. Shah confirmed that the girl had microcephaly, a birth defect linked to the Zika virus. The condition causes the baby's head to be smaller than expected because the brain hasn't developed properly. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed earlier this year that the Zika virus can cause microcephaly, and the first case of an infant born with Zika-related microcephaly was reported in Hawaii in January.

According to the AP, the mother had traveled to El Salvador and returned to Texas during her second trimester. Test results on Friday confirmed that the infant's death was indeed linked to Zika.

“While this is a travel-associated case, we know that prevention is key to reducing the risk of Zika virus infection," Shah said in a press release. "Harris County Public Health continues to actively work on protecting the community from mosquito-related diseases, but individuals must also protect themselves from getting bitten by mosquitoes locally and abroad."

This marks the second case of Zika-related death in the U.S. An elderly man in Utah died in June after traveling to an area with a Zika outbreak and presenting Zika-related symptoms. Health officials reported that he also had other health conditions.
The first cases of Zika acquired in the U.S. were reported in one Miami neighborhood in Florida last month. While officials are continuing to take Zika seriously, especially in regards to the risks it poses to pregnant women and babies, it's important to remember that for most people, the virus causes mild symptoms (if symptoms develop at all) and resolves on its own.
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