SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) – The California Department of Public Health announced that two babies have been born in the state with birth defects related to the Zika virus, the first such cases reported in California.
Officials said Thursday both mothers were infected during pregnancy after spending time in a country where the virus is endemic. To protect their privacy, the department is not releasing details or locations of the mothers and children.
KCBS Radio reported one of the babies was born within the last six months at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley to a mother who had traveled from Guatemala.
“This is a sobering reminder for Californians that Zika can cause serious harm to a developing fetus,” CDPH Director and State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith said. “We’re releasing the information in the hopes that we get the attention of people of childbearing age. There’s a very real risk to women who get pregnant and travel to areas where Zika is transmitting.”
Health officials stressed there is no evidence of mosquitoes transmitting Zika in California at this time, and that infants born with Zika-related birth defects do not pose a public health risk.
The babies have microcephaly, a birth defect where a baby’s head is significantly smaller than expected.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, babies with microcephaly often have smaller brains that may have not developed properly.
As of July 29th, the Department of Public Health confirmed 114 travel-related Zika infections, 21 of whom are pregnant women.
Earlier this week, the CDC warned pregnant women to avoid a neighborhood in Miami, Florida after more than a dozen people became infected with the virus, likely from mosquitoes in the area.
The Department of Public Health advises people traveling to areas with the Zika virus to take steps to avoid mosquito bites, including using insect repellent and to wear long sleeve shirts and pants.
Sexually active adults who travel in areas with Zika should use condoms to avoid passing the virus during sex, and couples planning pregnancy should consult with a doctor.