Texas Health Officials Confirm State’s First Zika-Related Infant Death

Today, health officials in Texas confirmed the first infant death related to infection with the Zika virus in the state, according to a statement by the Harris County Health Department.

The infant, a girl born in a hospital in Harris County, Texas, died shortly after her birth. Her mother had traveled to Latin America during her pregnancy.

The baby was born with a number of birth defects including microcephaly, which has been linked to infection with the Zika virus during pregnancy. Harris County health officials confirmed shortly after her birth that she tested positive for Zika.

When acquired during pregnancy, the Zika virus has been shown to invade the placenta and infect a developing fetus’ nerve cells, causing these birth defects. According to STAT, the CDC has reported that as of July 28th, there are 479 women in the United States who have been diagnosed with the Zika virus while pregnant. Additionally, 15 babies have been born with Zika-related birth defects and 6 have been lost, either from miscarriage, stillborn, or abortion.

Health officials noted that while this particular infection originated abroad, prevention is still key. “While this is a travel-associated case, we know that prevention is key to reducing the risk of Zika virus infection. Harris County Public Health continues to actively work on protecting the community from mosquito-related diseases, but individuals must also protect themselves from getting bitten by mosquitoes locally and abroad,” said Umair A. Shah, the executive director of Harris County’s Health Department in the release.

The small outbreak in Florida is currently being managed by health officials there; as of today, it remains the only local outbreak of the Zika virus in the United States.