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First Zika-Related Death in the US Recorded in Puerto Rico

May 02, 2016 11:04 AM EDT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as the Puerto Rico Department of Health, announced last week that a man from Puerto Rico died from complications of the Zika virus in February.

CNN reported that the center declared this to be the first case in the U.S. and its territories that Zika infection has been linked to a death.

The unidentified Puerto Rican man is 70 years old and lived in the San Juan metro area. He was reportedly treated for symptoms of Zika that lasted less than a week. But after his recovery, he returned to the hospital due to a bleeding disorder.

The man was then diagnosed with immune thrombocytopenic purpura, said Tyler Sharp, an epidemiologist with CDC based in Puerto Rico. With the disorder, the affected immune system attacks the blood cells that allow clotting.

New York Daily News reported that the man died of internal bleeding, less than 24 hours after seeking help at the health center.

Sharp added that this is the ninth reported case of bleeding linked with the Zika virus, but they are still uncertain if contracting the Zika virus would make the patient more susceptible to the disorder.

If that is the case, it might be similar to the association between the Zika virus and the Guillain-Barre Syndrome, in which the immune system attacks the nerves.

Deaths related to the Zika virus are rare. Reported cases are often associated with microcephaly in babies of infected pregnant women.

Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, is currently battling an outbreak, with more than 700 reported Zika cases. Across the 50 continental states, there have been 426 recorded cases. These have all been associated with traveling to areas where there is an outbreak.

In U.S. territories, the CDC recorded 599 cases of the Zika virus.

Since Zika can also be transmitted through sexual contact, New York City has decided to send a million condoms to Puerto Rico, where the outbreak is at its worse in all of the U.S.

Dubbed "NYC Condoms," these will be donated to the island nation through the local health department, as per the NY Daily News.

While there is still no vaccine to combat the virus, some preventive measures can be done, such as keeping the environment clean to prevent mosquitos from breeding in the area and using insect repellent or bug spray. CDC also advises against traveling to countries and areas where there is a Zika virus epidemic, such as Brazil, Venezuela and areas in The Caribbean and the Pacific Islands.

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