SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, July 18, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — The Utah Department of Health is investigating a new case of Zika discovered in Utah in a victim who they believe has not traveled to a Zika-infested part of the world or had sexual with an infected person — previously the two ways the virus was known to be acquired.
The new case was found in someone who served as caretaker for the Utah patient who died recently of unknown causes, but whose blood had an unusually high amount of the Zika virus. The deceased had traveled overseas to an area where Zika is common.
The caretaker has since recovered.
“The new case in Utah is a surprise, showing that we still have more to learn about Zika,” said Dr. Erin Staples, a medical epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention working in Utah.
Dr. Angela Dunn, deputy state epidemiologist at the Utah Department of Health, agreed the case may be unique.
“Our knowledge of this virus continues to evolve and our investigation is expected to help us better understand how this individual became infected,” Dunn said.
“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.”
Varieties of mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus are not native to Utah.
The Center for Disease Control recommends women who are pregnant not travel to areas with Zika due to the high risk of birth defects, particularly microcephaly. Pregnant women also should use condoms or avoid sex with partners who have been an an area of high Zika infection.