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Zika outbreak: infected resident in Utah dies

Zika A. aegpti mosquito

An elderly resident who had been infected with the Zika virus while travelling to an area with active transmission of the mosquito-borne virus has died, Utah health officials say. (Jeffrey Arguedas/EPA)

The Salt Lake County health department in Utah said on Friday that an elderly resident who had been infected with the Zika virus while traveling to an area with active transmission of the virus died late last month.

The exact cause of death is not known, the health department said in a press release.

The resident had an undisclosed health condition and had tested positive for the Zika virus.

County health officials said it may not be possible to determine how or whether the Zika infection contributed to the person’s death.

The resident was not identified.

The Utah resident’s death was related to a Zika infection, a spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed.

As of this week, 1,132 cases of travel-associated Zika had been reported in the U.S., including 14 sexually transmitted cases.

About 20 to 25 per cent of people infected with Zika virus are believed to develop symptoms, the Public Health Agency of Canada says. Most people who have Zika virus illness have mild symptoms. 

Zika has caused concern throughout the Americas due to an alarming rise in cases of the birth defect microcephaly and other severe fetal brain abnormalities linked to the mosquito-borne virus reported in Brazil, the country hardest hit by the outbreak.

Infants with microcephaly are born with abnormally small heads and may experience potentially disabling developmental problems. Brazil has confirmed more than 1,600 cases of microcephaly linked to Zika.

Several affected countries have also reported an increase in the number of cases of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a neurological disorder.

A weekly report from Canadian health authorities on Thursday said 144 Canadians have the Zika virus. All but one of the cases were acquired by travelling to affected countries. The other case was locally acquired through sexual contact.

The overall risk to Canadians in this country is low, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

CBC | Health News

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