Health authorities in Spain have confirmed the first Zika-related microcephaly birth in the country. This marks the first birth defect case related to the mosquito-borne virus in Europe.
While there had been many reported cases of Zika infections in Europe, mostly reported by people who recently traveled to countries with local transmission of the virus, the case in Spain marks the first European birth of a baby born to a Zika-infected mother.
Spain has a total of 190 reported cases of Zika infections to date. About 189 of these cases have been linked to recent overseas travels and one was believed to be sexually transmitted.
According to regional health officials in Catalonia, the woman received the diagnosis in May when she was 20 weeks into the pregnancy. Apart from Zika, she had also been infected with dengue, another mosquito-borne disease, during her travel to Latin America.
The woman decided to keep the baby who was then born in Catalonia after 40 weeks of pregnancy via Caesarean section.
The infant is currently under the care of the Barcelona-based Vall d'Hebron hospital, and tests confirmed that the circumference of the infant's head was "smaller than normal." However, doctors said the baby's condition is "stable."
Felix Castillo, the hospital's chief of neonatal care unit, added that the infant is being monitored and doesn't require any respiratory support.
Elena Carreras, the hospital's head of obstetrics, also said the mother is doing well and both the infant's parents were very excited about their baby's birth. The mother's identity, the baby's gender and the exact location of her recent overseas travel have not been disclosed due to privacy reasons.
The virus has led to over 1,500 cases of birth defect reports, a majority of which were reported in Brazil where the epidemic started last year.
The case in a report would have been Europe's second case of Zika-related microcephaly birth if not of the Slovenian mother who decided to get an abortion after learning that her fetus showed symptoms of the birth disease.
Zika In The News
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed last April that the mosquito-borne virus causes not just microcephaly but also many other birth defects. The virus is primarily transmitted by infected Aedes aegypti mosquito, and preventing mosquito bites appears to be the best prevention against the infection while waiting for an approved vaccine against the virus.