A baby born in Texas is confirmed to have microcephaly due to an infection with the Zika virus.
The child was born with the birth defect in Harris County, Texas, a region that includes Houston. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) announced that they received laboratory confirmation of a past Zika infection in a baby recently born with microcephaly. The child’s mother had traveled from Latin America, where the department says she was likely infected with the virus.
This is the first Zika-related microcephaly case in Texas, though at least three other babies have been born in the U.S. with the defect due to the virus. Texas has reported 59 cases of Zika, including three confirmed cases in pregnant women.
The DSHS acknowledges that local transmission of Zika in Texas is likely. Dr. Umair A. Shah, executive director of Harris County Public Health, previously told the reporter that he would not be surprised if Zika is already transmitting locally in the state, since identifying these cases will be difficult. In a statement, the DSHS said officials do not expect large widespread transmission through the state. “Small pockets of cases in limited clusters are more likely,” the statement says.
“Our central goal is protecting unborn babies from Zika,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner. “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.”
The White House requested $1.9 billion in emergency funding for Zika in February, but Congress has yet to pass a bill for it. The virus continues to spread through the Americas.