Regina F. Graham and Valerie Edwards, Daily Mail, June 3, 2016
The Honduran mother who delivered what is believed to be the first baby to be born with a Zika virus-related condition in the New York tri-state area flew to America to specifically seek treatment.
In an interview with Fox News Latino, the young mother whose name has not been released publicly, explained that her initial symptoms were ‘underestimated’ by medical doctors in her native land.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated in February that it will cost at least $1million to treat a baby with Zika throughout their lifetime.
Mail Online contacted the US Customs and Border Patrol Agency who declined to comment about the woman’s immigration status along with the baby in question due to Privacy Act restrictions.
The 31-year-old woman told Fox News Latino that a rash appeared on her in December and that she was also feverish around the same time–both of which are symptoms of Zika.
She decided to see another doctor in the Central American nation, but then decided to seek treatment in the US and possibly entered the country on a tourist visa 33 days ago.
‘I told my gynecologist that I had an allergic episode,’ she said from her hospital bed at Hackensack University Medical Center.
‘He asked if I had a fever. I said I had had a little fever–but it was very brief, only for about an hour.’
In addition, the doctor in Honduras asked her if she had other symptoms, like redness or pain in her eyes. Those symptoms are often spoken about to health workers from people who have the virus.
‘I said no,’ the woman told Fox News. ‘He said, ‘Don’t worry, everything will be fine. I don’t think you will be affected.’ Then I had an ultrasound, and everything looked fine.’
She was eventually diagnosed with Zika in Honduras before she traveled to New Jersey, where she has relatives. It’s unclear exactly how far along she was in the pregnancy before she traveled to the US.
In addition, most US airlines do not restrict pregnant women from flying, but it is highly suggested that women who are closer to their due date do not board planes.
The woman, who is unsure of how she contracted the virus, said that it may have happened because of a mosquito bite. She gave birth to the baby girl that has intestinal and visual issues along with microcephaly by cesarean section on Tuesday at Hackensack UMC.
The Zika virus has been linked to microcephaly, which is when a baby’s head is smaller than expected due to the brain not developing properly.
Since the baby girl was born in New Jersey, she will automatically become a US citizen. It’s unclear if the mother has insurance or who is paying for the hospital costs.
According to the CDC, the estimated lifetime cost to treat a baby born with this condition that will require long-term care ranges from $1million to $10million.
Some babies with the condition can live normal lives, but most suffer from severe disabilities.
The surgical team at the hospital was led by Dr. Abdulla Al-Khan and Dr. Manny Alvarez, the hospital’s chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology and reproductive science, according to Fox News Latino.
The Associated Press reported that the Al-Khan said the mother had a normal ultrasound early in her pregnancy and that one conducted last week showed birth defects, including microcephaly.
Al-Khan said the prognosis for babies who are born with microcephaly is ‘generally very poor.’
He added that the mother is ‘hanging in there.’
‘But, of course, what human being isn’t going to be devastated by this news?’ he said.
The mother said: ‘It’s a reality we’re living. Sometimes we can underestimate things, but when it’s your turn to be in that situation, that’s the hard part.’
Mail Online has requested comment from Hackensack UMC, US Customs and Border Patrol and the CDC.
Experts recently discovered that sexual transmission of the Zika virus is more common than health officials first feared.
The discovery has prompted the World Health Organization to revise its advice to women who have visited areas hit by the virus.
Health experts now suggest women abstain from sex, or use protection and delay conceiving for at least eight weeks after they or their partner returns from areas where Zika is rife.
The WHO said Tuesday that couples or women planning pregnancy ‘are strongly recommend to wait at least eight weeks before trying to conceive’, to ensure the virus has cleared their bodies.
The recommendation, which doubles the abstinence period the WHO had previously advised, comes after scientists found the virus lingers longer than previously thought in blood or other body fluids, spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a news briefing.
If the male partner in a couple planning pregnancy has symptoms of the Zika virus, the period of safe abstinence should be six months, he added.
‘People should practice safer sex or abstain for at least eight weeks if they are returning from Zika-affected areas,’ he said.
‘The previous recommendation suggested a period of at least four weeks, so we’re upping (it).’
The new guidelines ‘reflect what we have learned about Zika disease and its complications,’ he added.
Health officials recommend wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, as well as practicing mosquito control to prevent infection where Zika is being transmitted.
The CDC reported there have been 591 cases of Zika diagnosed in the US, and all have been travel related.
The CDC also wants travelers to take extra steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes when they come home–so local insects won’t pick up the virus and spread it.
While the CDC does expect some clusters of homegrown Zika to occur, it is working with state and local governments to boost mosquito control.