New Zika Case in Utah Has Health Experts Stumped

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A person in Utah who did not travel to a Zika-affected country or have sex with someone who did is nevertheless infected with the virus, health authorities in the state confirm. Health officials are investigating how the person could have been infected.

The Salt Lake County Health Department has released limited information about the individual, but said the person cared for somebody who had been infected with Zika during travel and later died from unknown causes. Labs in Utah and at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), confirmed the infections. CDC officials are helping Utah experts investigate the case.

Local transmission of the Zika virus has not yet been reported or confirmed anywhere in the United States, though some spread is expected in the country. The new Zika case is the eighth reported in Utah so far. “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,” the health department said in a statement. The CDC said the deceased person had virus levels in their blood that were more than 100,000 times higher than amounts seen in other people with Zika infections.

Currently, Zika is only known to be transmitted by mosquito bites, or sex with an infected person.

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SOURCE: TIME, Alexandra Sifferlin