HOUSTON – Texas reported its first Zika-related death Tuesday after a baby girl whose mother traveled to El Salvador while pregnant died shortly after birth in a suburban Houston hospital.
The girl, who died a few weeks ago, had microcephaly linked to the Zika virus, said Dr. Umair Shah, executive director of Harris County Public Health.
“We are devastated to report our first case of Zika-associated death and our hearts go out to the family,” Shah said.
Test results linking the death to Zika were confirmed Friday. The mother had traveled while pregnant to her native El Salvador and returned to Harris County in her second trimester. Officials did not release her name.
The only other confirmed Zika-related death in the U.S. was that of an elderly Utah man who died in June. He suffered from additional health conditions.
Florida is the only U.S. state that has reported homegrown Zika transmission by mosquitoes, in Miami-Dade County.
Texas has reported 97 Zika cases, all contracted during travel abroad. Harris County has reported 31 Zika cases, including 14 in Houston.
Last week, Texas officials announced that the state’s Medicaid program would provide mosquito repellent to all expectant mothers and women between the ages of 10 and 45. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett doubted the efficiency of that program and said he would work with local and state officials as well as corporate partners to get the spray directly to residents.
“How many people are going to go get a prescription for bug spray? I think the more realistic way is to find corporate partners and make it happen,” he said.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.