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Zika virus blamed for brain damage in Hawaiian newborn

Since October, doctors have confirmed 3,500 cases of microcephaly in Brazil.
By Brooks Hays   |   Jan. 16, 2016 at 2:29 PM

HONOLULU, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- A baby in Hawaii was born with microcephaly, a congenital condition associated with an underdeveloped head and brain. Health officials believe Zika virus is to blame.

Lab results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the presence of the virus in the newborn. Doctors say the disease was transmitted from the mother, who contracted the disease while living in Brazil.

In response to the news, the CDC issued a travel advisory warning pregnant women to avoid travel to nations with growing numbers of Zika infections -- including Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

"We are saddened by the events that have affected this mother and her newborn," Dr. Sarah Park, an epidemiologist with Hawaii's Department of Health, said in a statement.

"This case further emphasizes the importance of the CDC travel recommendations released today," Park added. "Mosquitos can carry serious diseases, as we know too well with our current dengue outbreak and it is imperative that we all fight the bite by reducing mosquito breeding areas, avoiding places with mosquitos and applying repellent as needed."

The CDC and state health department said neither mother or child are infectious.

As the New York Times reports, Brazilian doctors first linked microcephaly to the Zika virus late last year. Outbreaks of the disease first began springing up throughout Latin America last spring. Since May, more than 1.5 million Brazilians have been infected.

As the number of reported Zika infections has risen, so have instances of microcephaly. On average, 150 newborns are diagnosed with the birth defect each year. Since October, doctors have confirmed 3,500 cases.

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