02/06/2016 - 01:16

US agency trying to verify if birth defect Zika-related

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working to verify if a baby girl born in New Jersey with a rare birth defect has the Zika virus, the agency told Anadolu Agency.

"We are working with the [New Jersey] Dept. of Health and will perform confirmatory testing for Zika infection in the infant after samples are received," the department said in a statement.

Babies born with the defect known as microcephaly have abnormally small heads and brains. It has been linked to Zika infection in pregnant mothers. 

The child’s 31 year-old mother was reportedly visiting the U.S. from Honduras before being admitted to the emergency room at a Hackensack, New Jersey hospital on Friday.

The baby also has calcification and dilated ventricles in her head, according to CNN, which added that the mother is in good health.

The mother, who has asked not to be identified, gave birth Tuesday.

The baby is the second to exhibit potential Zika-related defects, according to CNN, which said the first was born in Hawaii in January.

President Barack Obama asked Congress to pass a $1.9 billion appropriations bill in February to help prevent the looming health crisis. But lawmakers have been slow to respond, and are currently floating funding that’s about $800 million short of what the Obama administration’s health officials have said is needed to combat the virus.

The mosquito-borne virus has spread prolifically throughout Latin America, particularly in Brazil where it has prompted some athletes to voice trepidation about participating in this summer Olympic Games which will be held in Rio de Janeiro in August.

As of May 25, 60 countries and territories have reported continuing transmission of the disease, according to the World Health Organization.

Most people exhibit relatively mild symptoms when infected with Zika, but it is particularly worrisome for pregnant women because it has been linked to serious birth defects, including microcephaly.

There are more than 300 Zika-positive pregnant women in the U.S. who are being monitored by health officials, CNN said.

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