A dangerous disease known as the Zika virus has reportedly killed five babies in Brazil, and there is growing fear of unreported cases in the United States. The virus is transmitted by mosquitos and can spread from a pregnant mother to her fetus. The resulting infection can cause a medical condition known as microcephaly. The condition is rare and causes the baby to develop an abnormally small head and developmental brain issues.
The cases that are present in the United States are from people who traveled to some of the world’s top tourist spots. This includes the Caribbean, Central America and Brazil. In Brazil alone there have been over 2,400 babies with Zika virus infection and brain damage. Here in the United States there have been cases reported in Florida, Illinois, Texas and Hawaii. The case in Hawaii arose from a Zika-infected pregnant woman who gave birth to a child with microcephaly.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a travel alert for pregnant women to avoid 14 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, Mexico and Haiti. Symptoms of the Zika virus include fever, rash, muscle aches or conjunctivitis (pink eye) during or within two weeks of travel to any of those locations. Doctors have been advised that a positive finding for the virus should be reported to the appropriate local or state health department.