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First Zika Baby Born In New York City

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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New York City officials announced Friday a baby was born with the Zika virus — the first in the city.

The infant’s mother was infected with Zika “in an area with ongoing Zika transmission,” and the baby “is positive for Zika,” the New York City Department of Health said in a press release. City officials declined to provide information about the baby’s sex or the mother’s identity, but stated they learned of the case Thursday.

The official told the press it was “not at all surprising” that a baby with microcephaly was born in New York, as there’s a considerable amount of travel between the city and countries which are struggling with Zika.

There have now been 12 confirmed cases of babies born with Zika-related microcephaly in America, and more than 400 pregnant woman in the continental U.S. have evidence of Zika infection. Some babies with no immediate signs of problems also have been born in the U.S. to Zika-infected mothers.

Zika virus infections in pregnant women are directly linked to fetal deaths and devastating birth defects such as microcephaly, when a baby is born with an abnormally small head, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Laboratory studies also confirmed the presence of Zika virus in the blood, tissue, brains and amniotic fluid of fetuses and babies diagnosed with microcephaly.

There are currently 1,404 cases of Zika virus confirmed in the continental U.S., as well as another 3,815 in American territories, according to the CDC. The vast majority of the cases were from people who traveled to a Zika-prone country, such as Brazil. So far, all known cases of Zika on the U.S. mainland have been brought in by travelers or acquired through sex with infected travelers.

study published in March by the National Center for Atmospheric Research found that the Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito could spread as far north as New York City this summer if the weather is warmer than average.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito lives in tropical climates. Zika likely won’t spread as prolifically in the U.S. as it has in Latin America and the Caribbean, due to the high number of Americans living and working behind air-conditioned doors. The study also found small numbers of the mosquitoes can survive in much of North America during spring and fall when temperatures cool.

Researchers from the U.S. National Institutes of Health announced earlier this month they’re already setting aside money to study American olympians who contract the Zika virus while competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil.

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