First US Zika-related death in Puerto Rico

An Aedes Aegypti mosquito photographed on human skin in a lab of the International Training and Medical Research Training Center (CIDEIM) in Cali, Colombia on Jan 25, 2016.
An Aedes Aegypti mosquito photographed on human skin in a lab of the International Training and Medical Research Training Center (CIDEIM) in Cali, Colombia on Jan 25, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

MIAMI (AFP) - The first death related to the mosquito-borne Zika virus infection on US soil was reported on Friday (April 29) in the US territory of Puerto Rico, health authorities said.

"The patient died of complications related to severe thrombocytopenia," a condition related to a low number of platelets in the blood, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

"Although Zika virus-associated deaths are rare, the first identified death in Puerto Rico highlights the possibility of severe cases, as well as the need for continued outreach to raise health care providers' awareness of complications that might lead to severe disease or death."

The CDC investigated a total of 6,157 suspected Zika cases in Puerto Rico between Nov 1, 2015 and April 14, 2016, according to the CDC report.

Scientists confirmed that 683 (11 pe rcent) "had laboratory evidence of current or recent Zika virus infection," it said.

The CDC has warned of a potential explosion of Zika cases in Puerto Rico, possibly reaching into the hundreds of thousands.

Zika is known to cause the brain defect microcephaly, and is blamed for a recent surge in cases of malformed babies in Brazil.