MIAMI – A South Florida woman who contracted Zika while traveling in South America has given birth to a baby girl with complications related to the virus.
Maria Mendoza’s 7-week-old baby, Micaela, is being treated at a local hospital.
Doctors have found scarring in the retina of her eye and calcifications in her brain, calcium deposits that should not be there.
Speaking through a translator, Mendoza said she caught the mosquito-borne illness in Venezuela while she was three months pregnant. “I cried a lot. One always thinks the worst is going to happen because you don’t know what part of the brain was damaged,” she said. “Doctors wouldn’t say a lot because they were doing a bunch of tests. It was horrible. It still is. The fear is there.”
Micaela was brought to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, where an infectious disease specialist looked at her case. “She has cerebral calcifications, which are pieces of calcifying tissue in the brain, which means at some point that part of the brain was infected,” Dr. Marcelo Laufer.
Dr. Laufer said, at Micaela’s age, it’s difficult to tell how she will be affected.
Doctors said they will watch Micaela closely for hearing, vision and other cognitive development issues. Laufer said observation would last “five or six years, a long time.”
With doctors and therapy, doctors believe, the future will be positive for Micaela. Her parents are working through daily physical therapy with her to make sure she develops good muscle tone.
“The future is uncertain,” Mendoza said. “We stay positive, a lot of faith in God and the Virgin.”
Mendoza’s advice for other pregnant women is to stay home. “I would say to them to not leave their homes because it’s a situation that’s impossible to cope with. It’s an anguish that will keep you awake,” she said.
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