The first birth in the continental U.S. with Zika-related birth abnormalities occurred in a hospital in Hackensack, NJ. The baby reportedly has microcephaly, a condition where the head fails to grow normally, inhibiting normal brain growth.
While mentally challenged, most of these babies are otherwise healthy. Many will require lifelong care, which has been estimated by President Obama to cost 10 million dollars over the life of the child.
The mother had traveled to the U.S. from Honduras to seek better medical care. As of yet, local cases of Zika have not been proven beyond reasonable doubt. However, consider this scenario: the mother of the baby has Zika virus, is bitten by a mosquito, and the mosquito transmits the virus to American citizens during her stay.
Luckily, Zika virus is thought to only stay in the blood for a week or so. This limits the window in which a mosquito can pass the virus from one human to the next. It does appear, however, to spend much more time in other bodily fluids such as semen. Sexual transmission is believed to be the most likely way for a human to pass it to another human.
The CDC reported May 20th that at least 279 pregnant women in the United States and U.S. territories like Puerto Rico have documented evidence of Zika virus. This is a spike from last week’s report. Many hundreds more Americans citizens, non-pregnant, have been found to have had the infection. As only 20% of patients develop symptoms, actual numbers are probably several times higher.
Still, these are cases in which the victim has traveled from the epidemic zone in South America or had sexual activity with someone who has. No epidemic is expected in the United States, although small clusters of locally-transmitted cases in warm-weather states like Florida and Texas may occur, as well as in major populations centers like New York City during the summer.
Here’s my recent video on the book I’ve written on Zika virus, The Zika Virus Handbook, pretty much all you need to know explained in plain English. No-nonsense, non-panic, it’s the only book, as far as I can tell, written by a doctor who delivered his share of babies during his career and who writes about medical preparedness.