HARTFORD >> The state Department of Public Health is monitoring 30 babies born in or living in Connecticut whose mothers tested positive for Zika virus or Flavivirus during their pregnancies.
Two of those babies have Zika-related birth defects and another nine “were borderline” for birth defects, the agency said Monday in a press release.
The DPH is working with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor all 30 babies for Zika-related birth defects. It also monitoring nine women who are still pregnant who have been confirmed to have Zika or Flavivirus.
Flavivirus is a related class of viruses that include Zika, dengue, yellow fever, and Japanese encephalitis, and West Nile virus.
The nine babies with borderline status will be following closely for changes in their measurements that could confirm or rule out microcephaly or other birth defects.
“It is critical that we work with pediatricians to monitor these babies for signs of Microcephaly or other Zika-related birth defects throughout the first year of life because we have seen that these defects are not necessarily readily apparent at birth,” DPH Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino said in the release.
Microcephaly is a condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected. It can be an isolated condition or occur in combination with other major birth defects.
The DPH is monitoring all pregnancies where the mother was diagnosed with Zika or Flavivirus and then is following up at birth then two, six and twelve months after birth.
Pino said his agency strongly encourages all OB/GYNs and hospitals in the state to screen all pregnant women for Zika because 80 percent of people who contract the disease don’t show symptoms and don’t realize they have it.
The DPH said it had tested 1,208 people for Zika as of Jan. 18, including 873 pregnant women. Of those, 109 have tested positive for Zika, including six pregnant women. Another 44 have tested positive for Flavivirus.
“We can only track the patients we know have been tested, which means we could be missing a significant portion of pregnant women and babies exposed to Zika virus,” Pino said.
Pino said it is “imperative” that women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant carefully consider travel plans in areas where mosquitoes still carry Zika.