July 27, 2016
A growing number of children have been born in the United States with Zika-related birth defects, including microcephaly, seizures, vision and hearing loss, and intellectual disability. Of the more than 1,500 children born with birth defects due to the virus to date, about a dozen of these children have been born in the US. In all of the US cases, mothers had been infected while traveling to one of the 50 or so countries with endemic Zika. Zika virus is spread through mosquitoes or sexual transmission. Last week, the first documented case of female to male sexual transmission occurred. Recently, there has also been a reported case of transmission through caregiving duties, demonstrating that we have a lot to learn about the virus. Given that pregnant women who become infected have between a 1 and 29% chance of giving birth to a child with microcephaly, expecting mothers should avoid travel to countries with Zika and direct contact with others who have recently traveled to these countries.