As everyone learns more and more about Zika, they begin to learn that there is a lot that they might not know about the virus. Things like Zika's symptoms, how long the virus stays in the blood, and the long term effect that Zika has on health — are things that scientists and doctors are still discovering. But unfortunately, there is now an answer to one of the tougher questions. The question — has anyone died from Zika?—now has a very sad answer to it. The United States just saw their first Zika related death, as it was confirmed that a patient who had Zika died at the end of June in Utah.
On Friday, Salt Lake County health officials confirmed that an elderly patient who had Zika died — but were unsure of how Zika contributed to that person's death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also confirmed the death. "This person had an underlying medical condition and tested positive for Zika," Dr. Dagmar Vitek of the Salt Lake County Health Department, said in a press conference on Friday.
"We know it contributed but don't know if it was the sole cause (of death). "
According to the Salt Lake County health department, the patient had contracted Zika while traveling to an area that had active transmission of the virus.
According to the CDC, the patient had suffered from Zika symptoms — including a rash, fever, and conjunctivitis. But officials are not clear whether or not the patient died from Zika, or their underlying health condition that has yet to be specified.
While Zika symptoms tend to be mild, the virus has killed a handful of people all over the world. However, those who have died with Zika have also had other health conditions. In April, a man from Puerto Rico died from Zika due to internal bleeding caused by a "rare immune reaction to the virus," according to NBC News.
So what does this first reported domestic Zika death mean for the United States? It hopefully means that there will be more research and studies done on Zika and how it effects the body and immune system. While the symptoms may be known and how long they last, there is a lot we don't know. Like, for example, how Zika reacts when combined with other long term illnesses and how this causes death.
Currently in the United States, there have been no locally acquired cases of Zika within the nation. Meaning those who are infected with Zika within the United States have caught the virus from traveling or through unprotected sex.
People all across the nation can only hope that this case will bring more attention and more funding to Zika, as it has now proven to cause harm towards those infected with it.