The city’s Department of Health confirmed Friday its first case of a baby born with a Zika virus-related case of microcephaly, a potentially serious birth defect in which a baby’s skull is much smaller than normal.
The infant was born this month to a mother who was infected elsewhere, in an area where the disease is active. While the infection’s spread is centered in Latin America, 12 children have been born with Zika-related birth defects in the U.S. More than 1,400 cases have been reported nationwide, including 400 in expectant women.
Health officials in New York, the nation’s biggest city, “really viewed it as simply a matter of time” until a baby would be born with Zika-related microcephaly, Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said.
“But I think having a baby born in our city, who has been diagnosed with this condition, should make real for all of us the fact that this is not a theoretical risk,” she said. “It is a risk that affects us right here.”
The Zika virus causes only a mild illness, at worst, in most people. But infection sometimes leads to severe brain-related birth defects.