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Colombia Confirms 2 Cases of Zika-related Microcephaly

FILE - Six-weeks pregnant Daniela Rodriguez, 19, waits for test results after being diagnosed with the Zika virus at Erasmo Meoz Hospital in Cucuta, the capital of Norte de Santander state, home to most of the Colombia's Zika virus cases, Feb. 11, 2016.

The first two cases of birth defects associated with the Zika virus have been confirmed in Colombia, health authorities announced Thursday.

This announcement comes two days after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control definitively linked microcephaly to the Zika virus. Microcephaly is a rare but irreversible condition where babies are born with small heads and damaged brains.

The two confirmed cases were from a group of 33 Colombian babies born with microcephaly. Sixteen cases have been determined as unrelated to Zika, while the other 15 are still under review. Despite the large number of confirmed cases of Zika in South America, Colombia is only the second country to confirm related cases of microcephaly.

Fernando Ruiz, the country's deputy health minister, told a news conference that even more cases of Zika-linked microcephaly were expected between May and September.

Health authorities project that between 95 and 300 more cases of Zika-related microcephaly may be confirmed.

Colombia has reported some 70,000 cases of the mosquito-borne Zika virus - the highest number in Latin America after Brazil in this epidemic that has spread as far north as the United States.