1st Canadian case of Zika-related anomalies confirmed in a fetus

Canada has a case of Zika-related anomalies in a fetus, the country's public health agency says.

Canada confirms 2 maternal-to-fetal transmissions of Zika virus, including 1 with neurological anomalies

The Public Health Agency of Canada's Zika update says a fetus has 'severe congenital neurological anomalies.' (Dragan Grkic/Shutterstock)

Canada has a case of Zika-related anomalies in a fetus, the country's public health agency says.

This is the second case identified of virus transmission in pregnancy, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

"Canada confirms two maternal-to-fetal transmissions of Zika virus, including one with severe neurological congenital anomalies," the Public Health Agency of Canada said on its website Thursday.

One baby is developing normally and doctors are following it closely. 

Zika is unprecedented as a mosquito-borne disease that can cause birth defects. That's why it's considered so important to protect pregnant women, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

About 80 per cent of people infected with Zika virus have no symptoms. In others, the infection is mild, with symptoms that include fever, headache, conjunctivitis or pink eye and skin rash, along with joint and muscle pain.

When a pregnant woman is infected, her body clears itself of the virus. The concern is how the virus seems to cause brain damage and other complications that can appear later in a baby's development. 

The current Zika outbreak was first detected last year in Brazil, where it has been linked to more than 1,700 cases of microcephaly, a birth defect marked by small head size that can lead to severe developmental problems.

As of Thursday, 205 travel-related cases, including two sexually transmitted cases, have also been reported in Canada.

The risk for people in Canada continues to be low, since the mosquito species that normally transmit the Zika virus cannot survive cold weather.

Travellers are advised to take precautions such as protecting themselves from mosquito bites. Active Zika outbreaks have been reported in at least 55 countries or territories, most of them in the Americas, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health officials in Canada and the U.S. have added a neighbourhood in Miami to the list of places where people have been infected with the Zika virus by local mosquitoes. 

The World Health Organization says as of Wednesday, 15 countries or territories have reported microcephaly and central nervous system malformations associated with Zika virus infection in pregnancy. It says Canada is the latest country to report such a case associated with a travel-related Zika infection.

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