iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Four more infants have been born with birth defects related to the Zika virus in New York City, the city’s Health Department announced Wednesday.
The four cases occurred after a previous reported case in July, where an infant was born with Zika-related microcephaly, characterized by an abnormally small head or brain, often leading to significant developmental problems.
These four infants were born with “congenital Zika virus syndrome,” which encompasses variety of birth defects, including microcephaly, brain and eye abnormalities, shortened or hardened muscles and tendons and neurologic impairment, according to the health department.
In addition to these five cases where infants were born with health problems related to the Zika virus, eight other infants tested positive for the virus but have shown no symptoms of impairment or birth defects related to the virus, the health department said. Health officials said they will continue to monitor the children for at least a year to see if and how their symptoms progress as they get older.
In total, more than 200 infants have been born to women with a Zika virus infection in New York City, according to the health department.
“Today’s news is a reminder that Zika continues to be a threat to pregnant women and their babies,” New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said in a statement Wednesday.
“As we enter the holiday season, we urge all pregnant women in New York City, those who might become pregnant, and their male sexual partners not to visit places where there is active Zika virus transmission,” Bassett added. “We are closely following all babies born to mothers who test positive for Zika infection and will connect parents to available services to improve their child’s quality of life.”
As of Dec. 2, at least 8,000 people in New York City have been tested for the Zika virus with 962 people testing positive, according to the health department, which also noted that of those who tested positive, 325 were pregnant women. All of the Zika infections reported in New York City were acquired while traveling to areas where the virus was more prevalent, except in six cases that were spread through sexual contact, the agency said.
A Zika infection in adults often includes mild symptoms, including fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 1 in 5 people infected with the virus shows symptoms. Severe complications from Zika that require hospitalization are rare, and most people are over the worst of the symptoms after a week, according to the CDC.
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