Source: North Jersey.com
A 31-year-old woman from Honduras, a nation ravaged by the Zika virus, gave birth to a baby girl suffering from the devastating effects of the virus on Tuesday at Hackensack University Medical Center, the first apparent case in the tri-state area.
The mother, who was not identified, contracted the disease in Honduras after being bitten by a mosquito early in her pregnancy (the virus also can be spread by sexual contact). The mother had been visiting relatives after arriving in the United States a little more than a month ago. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed she was infected with the Zika virus, said Dr. Manny Alvarez, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Hackensack.
Before coming to the United States, she was monitored by physicians in Honduras after her mother, a microbiologist, shipped a blood sample to the CDC in Atlanta to confirm she had contracted Zika, Dr. Alvarez said. The CDC has issued a travelers alert for U.S. citizens traveling to Honduras, which is in Central America.
“We saw on the ultrasound the baby was highly affected with multiple congenital abnormalities, including severe microcephaly,” Dr. Alvarez continued. Microcephaly, a condition in which the baby’s head is smaller than expected due to underdevelopment of the brain, can lead to seizures, developmental delays, hearing loss and severe mental disabilities. “Our high risk team saw the baby was not doing well — we decided the baby needed to be delivered.’’ She was delivered by Cesarean section, and also has intestinal and visual issues.
There have been 591 cases of Zika diagnosed in the United States. The CDC says that all the cases of Zika in the United States, including 14 in New Jersey, were contracted by traveling abroad. Earlier this year, they reported that the first baby born in the U.S. with microcephaly related to the Zika virus occurred in Hawaii.
Alvarez said the mother, whose husband is home in Honduras, accepted that her baby, her second child, would have challenges. He said she told him she wanted to talk publicly about her baby because “people have to know Zika can destroy a perfect life. I want to make sure people are careful and take precautions.’’