A baby recently born with microcephaly in Harris County is confirmed to have had a past Zika virus infection, the Texas Department of State Health Services says.
Texas' DSHS said the child's mother was likely infected in Latin America and that the baby acquired the infection in the womb.
“It’s heartbreaking. This underscores the damage Zika can have on unborn babies,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, Texas Department of State Health Services commissioner. “Our state’s work against Zika has never been more vital.”
Neither the baby nor mother are infectious, the DSHS said, and there is no additional risk in Texas.
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The microcephaly case is the first Zika-related case in Texas, DSHS confirmed.
The DSHS said Texas has logged 59 cases of Zika virus disease, including three confirmed cases of Zika in pregnant women. All are related to travel abroad to areas with active Zika transmission. There have been no reported cases of Zika virus transmitted by mosquitoes in Texas; one case in Dallas is confirmed to have been transmitted sexually.
"With its link to microcephaly, Zika poses a serious threat to unborn children. DSHS is working to educate women and families about how to protect themselves through its Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program and via healthcare providers," DSHS said in a news release. "DSHS is working closely with other state agencies to emphasize precaution information to their specific audiences, such as through schools, daycares and women’s health programs.
The state's health department said they've made significant progress delaying the impact of Zika on the state and that while local transmission remains likely it is not expected to be widespread.
"Small pockets of cases in limited clusters are more likely. This assessment is based on the state’s past experience with dengue, a similar virus spread by the same mosquitoes, and on the prevalent use of window screens, air conditioning, insect repellent and other mosquito control efforts in Texas," the DSHS said.
“Our central goal is protecting unborn babies from Zika,” said Dr. Hellerstedt. “We are on alert for local transmission and will act fast to identify actual risk and continue to do everything we can to protect Texans.”
For more information about Zika prevention for Texas go to www.TexasZika.org.