On Friday the Salt Lake County Health Department held a press conference on a recent death that may be linked to the Zika virus. The person died in late June, and post-mortem tests confirmed that they were carrying the virus. However, the person also had a separate health condition and it is unclear to what extent the Zika virus may have contributed to that death.
This would be the first Zika-related death in the continental United States, following a case in Puerto Rico were a man passed from a condition that resulted from antibodies to the Zika virus attacking his platelets.
As of July 6, there have been over 1100 cases of Zika virus infection in the continental United States reported to the Centers for Disease Control. More than 2500 have been reported in U.S. territories. By comparison, back in February there were all of 45 cases reported in the entire U.S. Nearly all of the cases in U.S. territories are locally acquired, while none of the cases – including the person who passed in Utah – in the continental U.S. were locally acquired. Congress remains unable to pass a funding bill for fighting the virus, which places additional demand on resources currently dedicated to fighting Ebola. I’m skeptical that a possible fatality related to Zika would move members to act, but would be happy to be proven wrong.