HACKENSACK, N.J. — Doctors are stressing that a pregnant woman with Zika who gave birth to a baby diagnosed with microcephaly at Hackensack University Medical Center on Tuesday does not pose an infection risk to others, but that her baby’s prognosis is bleak.
The infant’s eyes are structured abnormally. Zika virus preys on babies' brains while still in the womb, causing development problems, seizures and irritability.
"She is trying her best to cope with this emotionally,” said Dr. Abdulla Al-Khan, Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine and Surgery at Hackensack UMC.
Doctors confirmed that the 31-year-old mother contracted the virus in Honduras. Her doctors in Central America tested her and suspected Zika.
"The patient opted to come to the United States for better care for her and her unborn fetus," said Dr. Al-Khan. "And she has family members in the United States."
Travel-related Zika cases in New Jersey ticked up from 16 to 18 within the last week. During the same time in New York, cases rose from 127 to 183 as of Wednesday evening.
"I think the lesson learned today is how crucial it is for us, as physicians, as a community, as a medical organization, state level, federal level, for us to do every single thing possible to bring a halt to this epidemic, especially it reaching the United States. Because to me, it's quite frankly catastrophic for a young healthy patient who is pregnant or is seeking to get pregnant to encounter this,” urged Dr. Al-Khan.
Pregnant women should stay away from countries where mosquitoes are spreading the virus, including South and Central America or the Caribbean. If you have to go, stay in a cool place and use mosquito repellent.
So far, no one has gotten Zika from being bit by a mosquito in the United States.
There have been 11 U.S. cases in which the disease was transmitted sexually.