CDC: Check Babies of Women Who Visit Zika Areas
Advisory is for babies of any woman who's been in such a locale within 2 weeks of delivery, CDC says
By Dennis Thompson
FRIDAY, Feb. 19, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Healthy newborns of women who traveled in an area affected by the Zika virus within two weeks of delivery, or whose mothers show signs of Zika infection, should be checked for infection, U.S. health officials said Friday.
The latest guidance comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it's based on research indicating that Zika can be passed from mother to child during delivery.
The CDC experts stressed, however, that Zika infection in newborns who contract the virus during delivery is typically mild or without symptoms.
Only two cases of "perinatal" (during delivery) infection of a newborn with the Zika virus have been reported so far, the CDC noted.
"One of these infants was asymptomatic, and the other had thrombocytopenia [a deficiency of blood platelets] and a diffuse rash," said a team led by Katherine Fleming-Dutra, of the agency's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infections.
Overall, Zika infection in infants and children is transient and mild, the CDC said.
The new, updated advisory pertains to babies who are born with a normal head circumference that does not indicate microcephaly, the devastating birth defect that's been strongly linked with maternal Zika infection.
Microcephaly results in infants having small heads and often involves brain damage. It's believed there have been more than 4,100 suspected or confirmed cases of microcephaly in Brazil, the epicenter of the outbreak.
The new advisory was published Feb. 19 in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The CDC's latest guidance comes after data released earlier this week suggested that the Zika virus can move from a pregnant woman to her unborn child. Brazilian researchers reported in the Feb. 17 issue of The Lancet Infectious Diseases that the virus was present in the amniotic fluid of two women whose infants were diagnosed with microcephaly.
The discovery added to growing evidence that the Zika virus might be behind the recent surge in the number of babies born in Brazil with microcephaly.
"Previous studies have identified Zika virus in the saliva, breast milk and urine of mothers and their newborn babies, after having given birth," said study author Dr. Ana de Filippis, from the Oswaldo Cruz Institute in Rio de Janeiro. "This study reports details of the Zika virus being identified directly in the amniotic fluid of a woman during her pregnancy, suggesting that the virus could cross the placental barrier and potentially infect the fetus."