Ten days ago Utah officials announced the first death from Zika in the United States, that of an elderly person with travel history to a Zika endemic region and with co-morbidities.
Today we are learning that a`family contact' - who acted as a caregiver - was also infected, although exactly how remains a mystery.
This statement from the Utah Department of Health.
Public Health Officials Investigating Unique Case of Zika
(Salt Lake City, UT) – Utah health officials confirmed today a new case of Zika in Utah and have launched an investigation to determine how the person became infected. The new case is a family contact who helped care for the individual who died from unknown causes and who had been infected with Zika after traveling to an area with Zika.
Laboratories at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in Utah confirmed Zika infection in both Utah residents. A CDC team is in Utah to help with the investigation.
The new case is the eighth Utah resident to be diagnosed with Zika. Based on what is known now, the person has not recently traveled to an area with Zika and has not had sex with someone who is infected with Zika or who has traveled to an area with Zika. In addition, there is no evidence at this time that mosquitoes that commonly spread Zika (aedes species) virus are in Utah.
The investigation is focused on determining how the eighth case became infected after having contact with the deceased patient who had a uniquely high amount of virus in the blood.
“Our knowledge of this virus continues to evolve and our investigation is expected to help us better understand how this individual became infected,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, deputy state epidemiologist at the UDOH. “Based on what we know so far about this case, there is no evidence that there is any risk of Zika virus transmission among the general public in Utah.”
Public health investigators are interviewing the person and family contacts to learn more about the types of contact they had with deceased patient. They are also collecting samples for testing from family members and others who had contact with the deceased patient while they were ill and are working in the communities where the two cases lived to trap and test mosquitoes.
“We’re doing our part as public health officials to learn more about the virus and about this specific case,” said Gary Edwards, executive director of the SLCOHD. “In the meantime, the public, and especially pregnant women, should continue to take recommended steps to protect themselves from Zika virus.”
The CDC recommends that women who are pregnant not travel to areas with Zika. They should also use condoms or not have sex with partners who have traveled to or live in an area with Zika for the duration of their pregnancy. For a list of areas with Zika visit http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html. CDC also recommends people take steps to prevent mosquito bites: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/prevent-mosquito-bites.html.
The CDC has scheduled a press conference on this latest development for 2pm today.