First Gu­atemalan baby born with Zika-linked mi­cro­cephaly

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

AGu­atemalan baby has been born with mi­cro­cephaly linked to the Zika virus, of­fi­cials say.

The child is be­lieved to be the first born with a Zika-linked de­fect in the Cen­tral Amer­i­can coun­try.

The in­fec­tion is sus­pected of caus­ing ba­bies to be born with un­der­de­vel­oped brains and ab­nor­mally small heads if the mother has it dur­ing preg­nancy. Chil­dren with mi­cro­cephaly face life­long dif­fi­cul­ties, in­clud­ing in­tel­lec­tual im­pair­ment. It can be fa­tal. Brazil has been the cen­tre of the cur­rent out­break of the virus.

Car­los Me­jia, di­rec­tor of the in­fec­tious dis­eases depart­ment at Gu­atemala City's Hospi­tal Roo­sevelt, said two other ba­bies were un­der­go­ing tests to de­ter­mine if their mothers had caught Zika while preg­nant.

Zika is com­monly trans­mit­ted through mos­qui­toes but can also be trans­mit­ted sex­u­ally. The UN es­ti­mates says that 20% of women in Gu­atemala who are sex­u­ally ac­tive are not us­ing con­tra­cep­tion, de­spite be­ing fer­tile and not want­ing to get preg­nant.

Abor­tion is il­le­gal in Gu­atemala - it can only be per­formed to save a mother's life.

Zika virus around the world:

• More than 60 coun­tries and ter­ri­to­ries now have con­tin­u­ing trans­mis­sion of Zika. • Cases of Zika-re­lated birth de­fects have been cen­tred in Brazil, with about 1,800 in­stances con­firmed to date. • At least 1,955 peo­ple in the US have con­tracted Zika while trav­el­ling out­side the coun­try, and about 22 cases have been sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted. • So far 25 peo­ple have con­tracted the virus from lo­cal mos­qui­toes in Florida. • The US ter­ri­tory of Puerto Rico has seen nearly 6,500 lo­cally ac­quired cases and 30 as­so­ci­ated with travel. Sources: WHO, CDC, Florida

Depart­ment of Health

Mi­cro­cephaly: the con­di­tion of an ab­nor­mally small head.

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