Zika Virus Claims Its First US Fatality In Puerto Rico

AP

A 70-year-old Puerto Rican died in February and it has been discovered that his death was caused by complications stemming from a Zika virus infection, becoming the first United States citizen to do so.

In a report released on Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the man had developed thrombocytopenia, a rare disease that can lower blood platelets and make it harder for blood to properly clot; the man had died from internal bleeding as a result.

According to the CDC report, there have been 683 confirmed Puerto Rican cases of Zika since November 1, 2015. The disease is rarely fatal; symptoms often manifest as a rash, fever, joint pain and conjunctivitis.

But Zika has been viewed, falsely for some parts of South America, as a rising threat where instances of microcephaly — the birth defect suffered by children of women who come into contact with mosquitoes carrying the disease during pregnancy — has caused panic.

North America has not been immune to this Zika panic. Recent CDC data reports that the potential range of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, regarded as the primary carrier of the virus, spreads across most of the southern U.S., while another carrier species, Aedes albopictus, covered most of the southeast.