Zika virus could be transmitted through our body fluids like saliva, vomit, urine, tears or stool, according to the findings of an investigation into a mysterious Zika case in Utah, which led to the first death from the virus in the US. The preliminary findings of the investigation was released in Sept. 13 in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
Salt Lake County Health Department confirmed the death of an elderly man that contracted the Zika virus on July 8. This marked the first death from Zika virus in the US. The patient’s blood test results showed that his virus was 100,000 times higher than the average.
Unexpectedly, the patient’s son was diagnosed with the virus after taking care of him. However, health officials cannot explain how the son contracted the virus.
The experts investigated the problem but after conducting epidemiological evaluation of family contacts, blood tests of individuals who have come into contact with the patient, as well as performing mosquito surveillance in the area, they could still not figure out how the son got infected. However, they found out that the son kissed his father and assisted the healthcare workers when they cleaned the patient.
Consequently, the researchers determined that the son most likely contracted the virus through contact with his father’s bodily fluids. Nevertheless, the experts assert that they kept the case open due to the lack of additional cases that could support this new mode of transmission.
“This investigation will remain active, and we will continue working to learn more about Zika virus and how it may be spread,” points out Dagmar Vitek, MD, medical director of the Salt Lake County Health Department. “People should continue to take the appropriate steps to prevent Zika virus infection — especially pregnant women and healthcare workers who are caring for severely ill patients with the disease.”