By NAN Contributor
News Americas, PEMBROKE PARK, FL, Thurs. June 30, 2016: The U.S. has recorded its fifth Zika-related Microcephaly birth according to The Florida Department of Health.
The affected baby’s mother is a Haitian national who was infected with the Zika virus in Haiti and traveled to Florida to give birth, state officials said.
Microcephaly is a rare neurological condition in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and incomplete brain development.
Health officials said microcephaly is usually the result of the brain developing abnormally in the womb or not growing as it should after birth.
Babies born with the defect often have a range of problems, including developmental delay, intellectual disability, problems with movement and balance, hearing loss and vision problems.
Gov. Rick Scott and Florida Surgeon General Celeste Philip participated in a Zika roundtable discussion in Palm Beach County this week to discuss the issue but did not disclose the hospital where the woman gave birth or her name.
There have previously been four other Zika-related microcephaly births in the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Another four pregnant women lost their babies as a result of travel-related Zika infections, according to the latest CDC report as of June 16.
There are currently 820 cases of adults with Zika in the United States. All the cases are connected to travel to areas with outbreaks of the mosquito-borne virus, primarily Latin America and the Caribbean. There is currently no cure for Zika in humans, but a successful vaccine trial using mice has led to further trials on humans being announced for later this year.
WHAT IS ZIKA?
The Zika (ZEE’-ka) virus was first discovered in monkey in Uganda in 1947 – its name comes from the Zika forest where it was first discovered.
It is native mainly to tropical Africa, with outbreaks in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.
It appeared in Brazil in 2014 and has since been reported in many Latin American countries and Caribbean islands. The World Health Organization has said there is strong scientific consensus that Zika also can cause Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis in adults.
HOW IS ZIKA SPREAD?
The disease is typically transmitted through bites from the same kind of mosquitoes – Aedes aegypti – that can spread other tropical diseases, like dengue fever, chikungunya and yellow fever.
It is not known to spread from person to person.
Scientists have found Zika can be transmitted sexually. The World Health Organization warned the mode of transmission is ‘more common than previously assumed’.
And, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said couples trying to conceive should abstain or wear condoms for six months if the male has confirmed or suspected Zika.
Additionally, the CDC said couples should abstain or wear condoms for eight weeks if the female has confirmed or suspected Zika, or if the male traveled to a country with a Zika outbreak but has no symptoms.
The first case of sexually transmitted Zika was reported in Texas at the beginning of February.
The patient became infected after sexual contact with a partner diagnosed with the virus after traveling to an affected region.
Prior to this outbreak, scientists reported examples of sexual transmission of Zika in 2008.
A researcher from Colorado, who caught the virus overseas, is thought to have infected his wife, on returning home.
And records show the virus was found in the semen of a man in Tahiti.
So far, each case of sexual transmission of Zika involves transmission from an infected man to his partner. There is no current evidence that women can pass on the virus through sexual contact.
The World Health Organization says Zika is rapidly spreading in the Americas because it is new to the region, people aren’t immune to it, and the Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries it is just about everywhere – including along the southern United States.
Canada and Chile are the only places in the Americas without this mosquito.
The majority of people infected with Zika virus will not experience symptoms.
Those that do usually develop mild symptoms – fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes – which usually last no more than a week.
There is no specific treatment for the virus and there is currently no vaccine to protect against infection, though several are in the developmental stages.
HOW CAN IT BE STOPPED?
Individuals can protect themselves from mosquito bites by using insect repellents, and wearing long sleeves and long pants – especially during daylight, when the mosquitoes tend to be most active, health officials say.
Eliminating breeding spots and controlling mosquito populations can help prevent the spread of the virus.
Officials warn people not to leave open containers with water out. Female mosquitoes lay eggs in water, fueling the spread.