New Utah case of Zika virus baffles health officials

Posted at 10:24 AM, Jul 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-18 20:34:44-04

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah health officials have confirmed a new case of the Zika virus in Utah Monday.

Authorities are investigating how the person became infected.

According to the Utah Department of Health, the new case is a relative who helped care for the person who died from unknown causes and was infected with Zika after traveling to an area with Zika.

“We've interviewed the new case who has fully recovered as well as other family contacts to determine what type of contact they had with the deceased patient. We've also collected clinical samples from these individuals and will be conducting further laboratory studies on these samples,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, Deputy State Epidemiologist Utah Department of Health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a team in Utah to investigate.

Officials said this new case is the eighth Utah residents to be diagnosed with the virus.

The health dept. said the new patient had not recently traveled to an area known to have Zika and had not had sexual contact with someone who was infected.

“We don't know if contact between the new case and the deceased patient played any role in the transmission of the disease,” said Gary Edwards, Executive Director, Salt Lake County Health Department.

Authorities also said there is no evidence to show mosquitoes that carry Zika are currently in Utah.

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, according to the health dept.

“We don't know everything there is to know about the Zika Virus. As this investigation progresses, we expect it will yield more information,” said Dunn. “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.”

The CDC recommends women who are pregnant not travel to areas with Zika.

Health officials said they should also use condoms or not have sex with partners who have traveled to or live in an area with Zika for the duration of their pregnancy.

Click here for a list of areas known to have Zika.

CDC also recommends people take steps to prevent mosquito bites.

More tips on Zika prevention are available here.