A baby born with brain defects broadly believed to be caused by the Zika virus has died in the US state of Texas. It is the first Zika-related death in the southern state.
The death of an infant, born with the microcephaly birth defect near Houston, has been linked to the Zika virus. Texas health officials said that the baby was probably infected in the womb, while the mother traveled in Latin America, where the Zika virus has been most prevalent in recent months.
"The baby passed away shortly after birth, and is the first Zika-related death reported in Texas," said a statement by the Texas Department of State Health Services.
"Recent test results confirmed the baby's condition and link to Zika. The mother and baby are classified as travel-related cases, and there is no additional associated risk in Texas," it continued.
The Zika virus itself tends to cause only mild symptoms, if any, which last around a week. There is currently no vaccine. However, the virus is deemed to be particularly dangerous for pregnant women, as scientists increasingly concur that it can lead to a birth defect known as microcephaly, in which infants are born with unusually small heads and severely deformed brains.
Zika spreading in the South
The state of Texas has reported 97 cases of Zika, including two infants born with microcephaly, however, Tuesday's death is the first to occur in the US' second-largest state (both by population and size).
There are no indications that mosquitoes in Texas are actively transmitting the Zika virus, however.
Florida is the only US state to report active transmission of the virus by mosquitoes, with at least 370 cases reported across the state - the majority of which were reportedly brought in by people who were infected while traveling outside the US. There have, however, been reports of local transmissions.
The US Center for Disease Control, says that 15 infants have been born in the United States with Zika-related birth defects, in addition to six pregnancy losses associated with Zika infection.
ss/msh (AFP, Reuters)