Utah Patient Becomes First Zika-Related Death In Continental US

Dr. Ari Faraji, manager of the Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District, said although the first confirmed Zika-related death in the continental US occurred in Utah, there is now no threat of Zika virus infection from mosquitoes spreading in the Salt Lake Valley, according to Deseret News.

On Friday, the Salt Lake County Health Department announced that a Utah woman has lost her life after contracting the Zika virus.

Dagmar Vitek, deputy director of the Salt Lake County Health Department, also said at a news conference that the victim had an underlying health condition.

Health officials said the individual's travel history is not available and can not be released due to privacy laws, according to Deseret News.

Zika virus represents a serious threat to pregnant women because it can cause congenital brain malformations including microcephaly, characterized by an underdeveloped skull and a small brain.

"The exotic mosquito species capable of transmitting the Zika virus are not found along the Wasatch Front", Faraji said, according to Deseret News. An elderly Puerto Rican man died from Zika complications in April.

In other areas of the USA where Zika prone mosquitoes are found, officials still have not reported any Zika infections. Laboratory tests conducted in Utah were positive for Zika, but the results "did not come back until the individual had died", he said.

As of Friday, the California Department of Public Health reported 77 people with Zika statewide, including 18 pregnant women. There is one case of confirmed infection through sexual transmission.

More than 1,100 Zika illnesses have been reported in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, including six in Salt Lake County, according to health officials.

No vaccine or treatment for the Zika virus now exists and many of those infected will not show symptoms, the CDC says.

The cause of death has not been determined. The virus can also cause Guillain-Barré syndrome, a condition in which the body's immune system attacks the nerves.

Nearly all were people who had traveled to Zika outbreak countries and caught the virus there. Many people may not even realize they are infected.

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