May 31, 2016

Woman in N.J. gives birth to baby with region's first Zika-linked birth defect

Officials at Hackensack University Medical Center confirm case of microcephaly

Zika Virus Births
Zika virus baby Felipe Dana/AP

Sophia, who is 2 weeks old and was born with microcephaly, sleeps before her physical therapy session at the Pedro I hospital in Campina Grande, Brazil. The Zika virus is linked to birth defects such as microcephaly, but it is unknown how likely it is that a pregnant woman infected with Zika will give birth to a baby with a birth defect.

A New Jersey woman infected with the Zika virus gave birth on Tuesday to the region's first child diagnosed with a condition linked to the disease.

Officials at Hackensack University Medical Center confirmed that the mother, who contracted the disease internationally and was visiting the U.S., gave birth to a baby with microcephaly, a condition marked by a shrunken circumference of the head, according to NBC New York.

No further details on the mother and child were provided, but the hospital said in a statement that both were receiving "exceptional care" and that everyone should respect the family's privacy.

The virus, primarily spread through the Aedes mosquito, has stoked fears of a local epidemic despite typically mild symptoms associated with the disease. As of earlier this month, the CDC had confirmed 18 travel-related Zika cases in Pennsylvania and 12 travel-related cases in New Jersey.

In South and Central America, however, a spreading Zika epidemic has signaled alarm among citizens, travelers and medical professionals who advise that the disease causes a range of fetal brain defects when pregnant women become infected.

While the Zika virus can be transmitted via blood transfusion or sexual contact with an infected male, the majority of those diagnosed do not require hospitalization and fatalities are rare. Symptoms tend to include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. Typically, patients remain ill for several days to a week.

To date, there is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat the Zika virus.