Utah health officials on Monday said a caregiver of an elderly patient from Utah who died while infected with Zika has tested positive for the virus, they said in a statement.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that a person who helped care for the individual who died last month while infected with Zika has now contracted the virus, Utah officials said.
They said the infected caregiver had not had any recent travel to an area where the Zika virus is being transmitted nor had the person had sex with an infected individual. Utah officials are still investigating how the person became infected.
Gary Edwards, director of the Salt Lake County Health Department, said the infected individual is a family contact of the individual who passed away.
Edwards would not say how old the family contact was or release the person’s gender.
“We know that the patient had contact with the deceased patient while the deceased patient was very ill. The exact nature of that contact, we are still investigating,” he said.
Edwards said the cause of the deceased person’s death is still under investigation, but he said the individual was infected with Zika at the time of death and officials believe the virus was a contributing factor.
“What makes this case unique is the individual does not have any of the known risk factors we have seen with Zika virus,” said Tom Hudachko, director of communications for the Utah Department of Health.
Hudachko said state officials are not aware of any mosquitoes known to carry the Zika virus within Utah. He said there were a few Aedes aegypti mosquitoes – the kind that carry Zika – discovered in traps in the Southwestern parts of the state several years ago, but there have not been any since.
He said the state does not have any Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, the other type that has been found capable of transmitting Zika.
“We’re looking at all potential contacts between the deceased patient and the new case,” he said.
“We’re also doing mosquito trapping near the residence where these individuals lived to make sure this is not a potential route of transmission,” Hudachko said.
(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Bernard Orr)