Zika Claims First Adult U.S. Victim

By Dustin Siggins Published on May 1, 2016

The Zika virus’ first adult victim in the U.S. was confirmed on Friday, one day after the first emergency test was approved for commercial use by the Food & Drug Administration. The first victim was a 70-year-old man from San Juan, Puerto Rico, who died in late February.

There are more than 700 cases of Zika in Puerto Rico, according to The Associated Press — and hundreds more across the 50 states:

Officials said the unidentified man recovered from initial Zika symptoms, but then developed a condition in which antibodies that formed in reaction to the Zika infection started attacking blood platelet cells. He died after suffering internal bleeding.

Rius said the man died less than 24 hours after seeking help at a health center. She said three other cases of the condition known as severe thrombocytopenia have been reported in Puerto Rico, and that those patients recovered successfully.

Three similar Zika-related deaths also have been recorded in the South American country of Colombia, said Tyler Sharp of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A disease that has had an outbreak since 2015 in Latin American nations and the Caribbean, Brazil and elsewhere, Zika is most known for causing microcephaly in unborn children, which can cause small heads, seizures and other problems after birth. (The link has been confirmed by a recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study.)

Approximately one percent of Zika-infected pregnant women bear children with microcephaly, American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists Executive Director Donna Harrison recently told The Stream. “The latest CDC information, based on an excellent study in French Polynesia, reveals that Zika virus infection has no effect on women who are in the second or third trimester of pregnancy,” Harrison said. “So, for women who are over 12 weeks pregnant, there is no association with microcephaly. For women who have a documented infection with Zika virus, there is a one percent  chance of microcephaly.”

Officials say they are concerned that Zika’s presence in the U.S. could worsen as summer arrives:

There have been 426 cases of Zika reported in the 50 U.S. states — all linked to travel to outbreak areas. But officials think it’s likely some small clusters of Zika infections will occur in the U.S. when mosquito numbers boom.

The virus is spreading quickly across Puerto Rico, where 89 pregnant women are infected with Zika. Rius said all 14 pregnant women who are infected and have given birth have healthy babies.

Nineteen people have been hospitalized in Puerto Rico and at least four are believed to have developed a temporary paralysis condition known as Guillain-Barre because of Zika.

The approved test, designed by Quest Diagnostics, is expected to be ready for use this week out of a California location. Its use and processing could be spread to dozens of other locations as time goes on. 

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