Puerto Rico has reported its first baby with the Zika-related defect microcephaly — a condition that flew under the radar until the mother was almost eight months pregnant.
The infant was born in the territory’s capital of San Juan sometime over the last two weeks with the Zika-linked neurological condition that renders the baby’s head smaller than expected, Health Secretary Ana Rius told the Associated Press on Friday.
The child’s mother experienced symptoms of the mosquito-borne virus between her second and third months of pregnancy, but didn’t receive regular prenatal care until her late second trimester, Rius said.
Her baby, who suffered birth defects, has reportedly been hospitalized with vision and hearing issues. He or she will be monitored until age 3 under Puerto Rico’s Zika Active Pregnancy Surveillance System, according to the New York Times.
At least five other pregnant women on the island are expected to deliver babies with microcephaly between November and January, Rius said.
Zika has been particularly unkind to tropical Puerto Rico: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say there are more than 28,000 locally acquired cases in the territory, whose health department has been retroactively reporting the incidents. Puerto Rico announced its first locally acquired case on Dec. 31.
The CDC projects that at least one in four people — including pregnant women — are at risk of infection if the virus continues to spread at its current breakneck speed.
President Obama in February asked Congress for $1.9 billion in emergency funding to combat Zika — a proposal that languished for months over partisan griping. Congress finally agreed to allocate $1.1 billion in late September, after Zika had spread mercilessly throughout the U.S. and its territories.
“We learn more about Zika every day, and the more we learn the more concerned we are,” CDC director Tom Frieden told CNN in early October. “This funding will allow us to better fight Zika and better protect babies.”