Infant Dies from Zika-Related Complications in Texas

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An infant who recently died in Harris County is the first Zika-related death in the state. - Flickr Creative Commons
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An infant who recently died in Harris County is the first Zika-related death in the state.
Officials in Harris County on Tuesday announced that an infant who died a few weeks ago succumbed to complications from the Zika virus.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said during a press conference, which was live streamed by Kens5, that test results the county received back from the state last Friday confirmed that the infant is the first death in Texas related to the Zika virus.

The child's mother, who was from El Salvador, became infected in Central America and arrived in Harris County during her second trimester. The baby became sick in the womb, according to the Department of State Health Services.

Microcephaly is a birth defect that causes an infant's head to be unusually small and not grow. Dr. Umair A. Shah, executive director at Harris County Public Health, said the virus caused other medical conditions, which he said he couldn't go into because of privacy concerns for the family, that contributed to the infant's death. "You can never say Zika caused a specific death or a specific condition," Shah said. "All you can do is say it's associated."

This infant is the second to have microcephaly related to the Zika virus. On July 13, also in Harris County, another child was born with the Zika-related birth defect. That child is still alive. Officials said that case is also travel-associated.

Unlike Florida, which is the first place in the states to see locally contracted cases of the Zika virus, everyone who has tested positive for the virus in Texas acquired it somewhere in Latin America. Emmett said if Harris County does see a locally acquired case, it will build off of the efforts Florida is already taking, like spraying to eradicate Zika-transmitting mosquitos in the areas they're found, handing out bug spray to people and initiating an aggressive public health campaign.

This fatality may be just the second in the entire continental United States related to Zika. According to the Washington Post, an elderly Utah man who traveled to Latin America became ill with the Zika virus and died from complications. That report was made public July 8. In April, according to the Post, another elderly man, this time in Puerto Rico, also died from Zika-related complications.

There are 97 reported cases of Zika virus in Texas, all associated with travel, state health officials have said. In San Antonio, there are eight cases, according to the last San Antonio Metro Health Department update.
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