The First Zika Virus-Related Death In The US Was Just Confirmed


On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a 70-year-old Puerto Rican man died in February due to bleeding complications linked to the Zika virus. This is the first Zika virus-related death in the United States, CNN reports.

The man contracted Zika and was reportedly treated for symptoms that lasted less than a week.

Tyler Sharp, an epidemiologist at the CDC in San Juan, Puerto Rico, said of the man,

A few days after his recovery, he returned to the hospital with signs of a bleeding disorder and was diagnosed with immune thrombocytopenic purpura, or ITP. That's a disorder where a person's immune system attacks the blood cells, called platelets, that allow clotting. As an elderly man, this individual did have some underlying health conditions, but they were not life-threatening and not likely to have led to his death.

While contracting Zika is not typically considered life-threatening, medical experts are still learning more about the virus. Accordingly, this man's death from Zika wasn't announced back in February seemingly due to the fact the cause couldn't be confirmed at the time.

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus spread by mosquitoes of the Aedes genus. Symptoms, which are mild, typically last for less than a week, as they did with this Puerto Rican man. But, Zika virus is also linked to deeply unsettling birth defects as well as paralyzing neurological conditions.

There are currently no treatments for Zika. A vaccine is in the works, but it could be some time before it's made available.

The current Zika outbreak, which has been a cause for concern for some time now, was thought to have originated in Brazil, but a recent study revealed the outbreak may have begun in Haiti.

Learn more about Zika and its symptoms and treatment, here.

Citations: First U.S. Zika death reported in Puerto Rico (CNN), Zika Virus Was In Haiti Before It Was in Brazil, Study Finds (NBC News)