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By Gary Evans, Senior Staff Writer, AHC Media
With the recently reported first Zika-related death of a person in the continental U.S., there was the brief, dreaded sense that widespread transmission of the mosquito-borne virus in America was at finally at hand. But somewhat remarkably, of the 1,133 people who have acquired Zika in the U.S. as of July 6, 2016, not a single one was infected by local transmission via a mosquito bite. Zero.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the total U.S. cases were all travel related with the exception of 14 sexually transmitted and one occupational infection in a lab. There have been five reported Zika-related cases of the rare paralytic Guillain-Barré syndrome in the U.S. In contrast, Puerto Rico has had some 2,500 locally acquired Zika cases and one death.
Health officials in Salt Lake City were releasing few details on the U.S. death of an elderly person with underlying medical problems who had traveled to an area where Zika is being transmitted by mosquitoes. The patient died in late June in Utah and Zika was only discovered post-mortem, so the virus cannot be definitely be listed as the single cause of death.
One is tempted to risk fate and say the Zika threat in the U.S. has been somewhat overblown, but don’t tell that to 320 pregnant women who have laboratory evidence of the virus as of June 30, 2016. Thus far there have been five pregnancy losses with Zika and seven live born infants with birth defects. Those are victims enough for any epidemic.