Officials confirm 1st Zika-related infant death in Harris County
HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Texas has confirmed that an infant who recently died in Harris County had microcephaly linked to the Zika virus. The baby passed away shortly after birth and is the first Zika-related death reported in Texas.
During her pregnancy, the mother was in Latin America, where she was infected, and the baby acquired the infection in the womb. Recent test results confirmed the baby’s condition and link to Zika. The mother and baby are classified as travel-related cases, and there is no additional associated risk in Texas.
Last month Texas reported the state’s first case of microcephaly linked to Zika, also a Harris County infant.
“Zika’s impact on unborn babies can be tragic, and our hearts are with this family,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, Texas Department of State Health Services commissioner. “Our central mission from the beginning has been to do everything we can to protect unborn babies from the devastating effects of Zika.”
DSHS is coordinating with Harris County Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to follow the cases.
Texas has reported 97 cases of Zika virus disease, including the two infants with microcephaly from Harris County. All Texas cases are related to travel abroad to areas with active Zika transmission. There have been no reported cases of Zika virus disease transmitted by mosquitoes in Texas, but Texas is on alert for the possibility local transmission.
With its link to microcephaly, Zika poses a serious threat to unborn children. DSHS is tracking the number of pregnant women with Zika in the state, working with providers and reporting weekly data to the national Zika pregnancy registry. DSHS is studying past microcephaly data to understand the prevalence and patterns of this condition in Texas.
DSHS has been emphasizing precautions, specifically for travelers and pregnant women, through an ongoing public education campaign and via www.TexasZika.org.