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First Zika-related Case of Microcephaly Reported in the United States

MAY 13, 2016 | CONTAGION EDITORIAL STAFF
Health officials in Puerto Rico have reported the first Zika-related case of microcephaly. The announcement comes on the heels of news of the first Zika-related death in the country just last week.

The detection of this recent case is said to be a result of the “robust surveillance systems” that have been put into place in the country. According to the health department statement, the male fetus showed, "severe microcephaly and calcifications in the brain accompanied by Zika-wide presence of the virus."

Zika infection around the time of fetal conception or during pregnancy can result in stillbirths, a decrease in the total amount of brain tissue, which would result in microcephaly, brain damage due to calcium deposits in the brain, excess fluid in the brain, irregular development of one or both eyes, hearing impairments, and other effects.

On a May 12, 2016 teleconference on Zika infection during pregnancy and subsequent birth defects, Sonja A. Rasmussen, MD, MS, director of the CDC’s Division of Public Health Information Dissemination and editor in-chief of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report noted that “although 4 in 5 Zika-infected adults are asymptomatic, the resulting complications in pregnant women and their fetuses are historical.”

The official statement from the Department of Health in Puerto Rico affirms that the country has 925 confirmed Zika cases, including in 128 pregnant women, and virtually all of the island's cases involve local transmission.

Last month, US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, Sylvia Burwell, visited Puerto Rico and announced that “20 health centers [throughout the country] would receive about $250,000 each” to strengthen efforts in responding to the Zika virus crisis in the country.

In addition, while Congressional funds remain in limbo, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today that a total of $25 million in fiscal year 2016 funds will go to 53 states, cities, and territories at risk for Zika virus outbreaks.
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