Zika

5 babies born in New York City with Zika-related birth defect since July

Cassiana Severino holds her daughter Melisa Vitoria, born with microcephaly at the IMIP hospital in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. The Zika virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is well-adapted to humans, thrives in people's homes and can breed in even a bottle cap's-worth of stagnant water. The Zika virus is suspected to cause microcephaly in newborn children. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Cassiana Severino holds her daughter Melisa Vitoria, born with microcephaly at the IMIP hospital in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. The Zika virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is well-adapted to humans, thrives in people's homes and can breed in even a bottle cap's-worth of stagnant water. The Zika virus is suspected to cause microcephaly in newborn children. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

In New York City, 14 infants have tested positive for Zika virus, five of which have shown evidence of what’s being called congenital Zika virus syndrome.  In an alert sent to doctors, the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene urged vigilance and continued to discourage women from traveling to areas battling the virus, The New York Times reported.

According to Wednesday’s alert, since July, at least four babies have been born in New York City with Zika-related symptoms, which can include microcephaly, in which the child’s brain is severely underdeveloped. The Department of Health reported the first case of a baby born in New York City with microcephaly on July 22.

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The New York Times reported that, as of Dec. 2, 962 city residents tested positive for Zika, including 325 pregnant women.

“Today’s news is a reminder that Zika continues to be a threat to pregnant women and their babies,” said the city’s health commissioner, Dr. Mary T. Bassett, according to The New York Times.

“We are closely following all babies born to mothers who test positive for Zika infection and will connect parents to available services to improve their child’s quality of life,” she added.

Pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant should avoid travel to parts of Central and South America, Mexico, the Caribbean, according to the New York Department of Health.

A report published in November found that Zika infection, which is spread by infected mosquitos, can cause a range of damaging symptoms, including a collapsed skull, eye scarring, severe muscle tension and brain calcifications.

The Zika virus set off worldwide concern after an outbreak in Brazil, where babies are now turning one and families continue to struggle with medical problems