The US has reached an unhappy milestone: the first case of brain damage in a baby linked to the "explosive pandemic of Zika virus infection." The baby was born recently in Oahu, Hawaii, and suffers from microcephaly, smaller-than-normal head and brain, the New York Times reports. The mother—who had lived in Brazil last year, a hotspot for the mosquito-borne illness—was likely infected early in her pregnancy before leaving for Hawaii. Meanwhile, the CDC on Friday advised pregnant women, along with those trying to become pregnant, to avoid traveling to areas known for Zika, including Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico, CNN reports.
Carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the Zika virus typically causes only mild symptoms, or none at all, reports the Times. Late last year, however, health officials in Brazil began to find a correlation between the disease and an increase in cases of microcephaly. More than 3,500 cases, including 46 infant deaths, in the nation may be linked to Zika, CNN reports. In the US, 14 imported cases of the virus were diagnosed in returning travelers between 2007 and 2014, plus a total of eight in 2015 and so far this year. Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci notes that factors like urban crowding and international travel "can cause innumerable slumbering infectious agents to emerge unexpectedly."