A baby born with brain damage at a hospital in Oahu, Hawaii, was infected by the Zika virus, U.S. health officials said Saturday. It's the state's first known case of the mosquito-borne virus, which has been linked to serious birth defects in thousands of babies born recently in Brazil and elsewhere in Latin America.
Health authorities said the child's mother had lived in Brazil until May 2015. They suspected she was infected during her early pregnancy, with the virus reaching the embryo and damaging its developing brain.
The microcephaly virus, which causes unusually small skull and brain development, is believed to be transmitted by a mosquito that has bitten an infected human. Symptoms of the illness include mild fever, joint pain and skin rash.
The Hawaiian case was reported Saturday, a day after U.S. health officials issued a travel warning to 14 countries and territories in the Caribbean and Latin America where Zika cases have been recorded. That alert warned pregnant women to avoid traveling to Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala and French Guiana. It also covered Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.
On Saturday, Barbados reported its first case.
Last month, Brazilian authorities identified Zika cases in 20 of 27 states, most notably in the state of Pernambuco, which reported more than 1,000 cases and three deaths.
Scientists discovered the virus in Uganda in 1947 while studying monkeys, and they isolated it in the 1950s in a human in Nigeria. But medical historians say confirmed cases were rare until 2007, when an outbreak was identified in the Federated States of Micronesia in the South Pacific.
Ahead of the current Latin America crisis, cases have been identified in Polynesia, Easter Island, the Cook Islands and New Caledonia.