First Zika-related death reported in Texas

Centers for Disease Prevention and Control

The first Zika-related death in Texas has been confirmed in Harris County, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The victim was a newborn who contracted microcephaly linked to the Zika virus and died shortly after her birth, state health authorities said in a news release. Microcephaly is a condition in which a baby’s head is much smaller than expected due to an underdeveloped brain.

The mother was pregnant in Latin America when she was infected and the baby acquired the infection in the womb, the state health agency said. The case was classified as travel-related and there is no associated risk in Texas, the news release said.

It was the second fatality in the continental United States linked to the virus, the first being an elderly patient in Utah in June.

The state reported its first case of microcephaly linked to Zika last month. It also involved a Harris County infant.

“Zika’s impact on unborn babies can be tragic, and our hearts are with this family,” Dr. John Hellerstedt, state health services commissioner, said in the news release. “Our central mission from the beginning has been to do everything we can to protect unborn babies from the devastating effects of Zika.”

Babies with microcephaly can incur other conditions such as seizures, developmental delay, intellectual disability, problems with movement and balance, feeding problems, hearing loss and vision problems.

At least 15 babies have been born in the United States with defects linked to the virus, The Houston Chronicle reports, citing statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of July 28. More than 1,800 cases of Zika have been reported in the United States, according to the CDC.

Texas has reported 97 cases of Zika virus infections. All are related to travel abroad to places with active Zika transmission. Tarrant County Public Health reports 14 imported cases. There have been no reported cases of Zika transmission by mosquitoes.

The Texas health agency’s precautions, particularly for travelers and pregnant women, can be found at www.texaszika.org.

The mosquito kills nearly 750,000 people each year. Malaria is the cause for the majority of these deaths, but a Zika outbreak has the Americas scared of this insect. This is how the insect spreads disease to its victims.

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