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State Health Department Confirms First Infant Death Related To Zika

James Gathany
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed a recent baby who died in Harris County had microcephaly linked to the Zika virus.

In a statement, the department says the baby passed away shortly after birth. This is the first Zika-related death reported in Texas.

The mother was infected with Zika while traveling in Latin America. The state health department says the mother and baby are classified as travel-related cases, and there is no additional associated risk in Texas.  

Last month, the state announced its first case of microcephaly linked to Zika – also a Harris County infant.

Texas has reported 97 cases of Zika.

The Texas Tribune reports:

It is the second Zika-related death in the continental United States after an elderly man in Utah died in June. Zika virus is not considered fatal in most adults. But researchers have linked the Zika virus in pregnant women to microcephaly, a condition causing babies to be born with abnormally small brains and skulls, and a small proportion of Zika infections may also trigger Guillain-Barré syndrome, an illness that targets the nervous system, scientists say. Officials from Harris County, which includes Houston, said the baby’s mother had traveled during her pregnancy to Latin America, where authorities suspect she contracted the mosquito-borne virus. The infant was born with birth defects, including microcephaly, officials said.

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.