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Elderly Salt Lake County Resident Dies of Zika

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A resident of Salt Lake County, Utah, has become the first confirmed Zika-related fatality in the continental United States. The Salt Lake County Health Department announced the death Friday, saying it occurred in late June.

The department said the individual was elderly and had an underlying health condition. The exact cause of death and its possible relationship to the Zika infection have not been established. The mosquito species that transmit the virus, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, do not currently inhabit Utah’s Wasatch Front but have been found in Arizona and New Mexico. The victim had reportedly traveled this year to an area where mosquitoes do carry the virus. Zika in pregnant women has been associated with birth defects. The virus has also been linked to Guillain Barré syndrome, which can cause paralysis. The Centers for Disease Control says there have been no locally acquired mosquito-borne cases of Zika in the continental United States, but there have been 14 sexually transmitted cases and more than 1,000 linked to travel.

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal. She is currently a freelance writer as well as the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.
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