From CBC News:
A Utah man who became the first person in the continental U.S. to die after being infected with the Zika virus passed it to a (family member) caregiver.
The man who died in late June caught the virus while travelling abroad to an area where mosquitoes are known to spread Zika and had an unusually high level of the virus in his blood, officials said. The exact cause of the death, which was announced on July 8, was not clear. The man was elderly and also had an underlying health condition.
The man’s elevated viral load is a unique situation, said Dr. Satish Pillai, deputy incident manager of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s Zika response told reporters. The man had Zika symptoms — including rash, fever and pink eye — but it’s unclear if or how the virus contributed to the death, the CDC said. The transmission to the caregiver was discovered after a doctor noticed Zika-like symptoms in the second person.
“The new case in Utah is a surprise, showing that we still have more to learn about Zika,” said Dr. Erin Staples, CDC’s medical epidemiologist on the ground in Utah. “Fortunately, the patient recovered quickly, and from what we have seen with more than 1,300 travel-associated cases of Zika in the continental United States and Hawaii, non-sexual spread from one person to another does not appear to be common,” Staples added in a release.
The caregiver’s mild symptoms were typical of how Zika presents, Pillai said.
CDC experts continue to recommend standard precautions when caring for someone who might be infected. “Make sure health-care personnel don’t have any direct contact with blood or body fluids through either broken skin or a needle stick or splashes to the mucous membranes,” said Dr. Mike Bell, a CDC medical epidemiologist.
Dr. Amesh Adalja, a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, said it will be important to know whether the family contact of the deceased man had any skin lacerations or skin disease that might have allowed the virus access.