A Haitian woman, who had traveled to the United States for the purpose, gave birth to a baby in Florida that exhibits symptom of exposure to the feared Zika virus. The unidentified mother contracted the virus before entering the US, according to health officials.
 
While the mother is a Haitian national, it is not known whether or not she entered the US illegally or she is out of status as to her visitor visa.
 
Like other babies exposed in utero to the virus, the child of the Haitian woman was born with microcephaly, a condition that causes babies to be born with abnormaly small craniums that lead to developmental delays.
 
 
The baby is the fourth baby with Zika birth defects known to be born in the United States after their mothers had been exposed to the virus outside of the country.
 
The baby in question automatically receives American citizenship, based on the fact of being born on US soil. Depending on the income and circumstances of the mother, the baby could be eligible for a number of different social benefits, including: food stamps, free housing and cash. The cost of the delivery and medical care will be borne by the state.
 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the cost of treating a child exhibiting microcephaly can cost between $1 million and $10 million throughout a lifetime.
 
In a statement, Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) said: “It is heartbreaking to learn that a baby has been born with Zika-related microcephaly in our state and my thoughts and prayers are with the mother and child.”
 
The first baby exhibiting Zika-related birth defects was born in Hawaii in January. The mother, still unidentified, had contracted the virus abroad before entering the country from Brazil. 
 
In June, another baby was delivered exhibiting symptoms of microcephaly. The mother entered the US from her native Honduras after having received a diagnosis of Zika exposure in the form of rashes and a fever. Once she got her diagnosis, she travelled to New Jersey to stay with relatives before the delivery of her baby. She may have entered the US legally on a tourist visa. In her case, the US Customs and Border Patrol Agency declined to comment on her immigration status. 
 
A government report released earlier in June said that three babies with Zika defects had been born, thus implying that another baby has been born with microcephaly. Also, three unborn babies infected with Zika were “lost,” according to the report, although it did not note whether they were aborted, miscarried or stillborn.
 
Currently, there are 820 cases of adults with Zika in the United States. All of them are connected to travel to areas with outbreaks of the mosquito-borne virus, primarily Latin America and the Caribbean. There has been no local spread of Zika in the the United States. However, the mosquito species that transmit the virus are found in the U.S. 
 
Zika-related birth defects include: microcephaly, stunted brain development, and skull growth, excess fluid in and around the brain, abnormal eye development, clubfoot, inflexible joints, and calcium deposits in the brain. 
 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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