The source of a mysterious Utah Zika virus case has reportedly been determined, and the findings of scientists and doctors are incredibly troubling in the midst of an ever-expanding Zika virus pandemic. That’s because in the Utah case, for the first time, the Zika virus has been confirmed to have been transmitted not through mosquito contact, and not through sexual contact. Rather, in the Utah Zika case, the virus was spread through casual, non-sexual contact.
Most likely, scientists believe, the Utah Zika patient (referred to as “Patient 2” to avoid confusion), a 38-year-old male, came into contact with either the sweat or tears of a person infected with the Zika virus. According to concerned researchers, that casual contact alone was reportedly enough to infect Utah’s Patient 2 with Zika.
The now-terrifying origins of the Utah Zika case became clear over the course of extensive research, reports PBS. The reason for the interest in the Utah Zika case was that the infected Patient 2 denied having sex with an infected person or travelling to an area affected by Zika.
According to all accounts, 38-year-old Patient 2 was infected with the Zika virus by his own father, who ultimately became a rare Zika fatality, and the first Zika-related death in the United States.
According to Swaminathan’s paper, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, it is believed that Patient 2 could have been spared their Zika infection had they been utilizing gloves at the time that they came into contact with the hospitalized patient. However, at the time of the Zika transmission, the virus was believed to have only been transmissible through sexual contact or via infected mosquitoes.
Researchers who studied the Utah Zika case have surmised that Patient 2 most likely contracted Zika through their skin, however that it is very unlikely that the Zika was able to pass through their “intact” skin. Rather, it is believed that the Utah Zika case originated because Patient 2 either had touched their mucous membrane (eyes, nose, mouth) or had some kind of cut or open sore.
While some are leery that the new discovery in the Utah Zika case may be indicative of a scary new mutation of the virus, scientists and researchers don’t believe the virus has changed. That being said, if Zika can be transferred through casual, non-sexual contact, it may explain how the virus spread so rapidly, even in areas with low mosquito concentrations. However, scientists claim to believe that this type of casual Zika transmission is “very rare.”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Frkhx69NEnM
The world have been terrorized by Zika for months now, and the virus has been linked to devastating birth defects. However, despite its crippling impact on the unborn, most Zika patients have a very good prognosis and the virus results in very few relative deaths.
“It’s very rare for people to die of Zika—in this outbreak so far, there have been only 13 fatal cases in adults (not counting deaths from Zika-related Guillain-Barré). When Zika patients die, Swaminathan says, in many cases they also have a preexisting condition like leukemia that compromises the immune system. In this case, the first patient, while elderly, was not immunocompromised. But his infection was extremely severe. His blood had 200 million copies of the virus per milliliter—with a typical infection, Swaminathan says, you’d expect to see hundreds of thousands, and one million would be considered high.”
While the Utah Zika case is the first known instance of Zika transmitting through casual contact, it might shed some light on the transmission of the virus. The discoveries made by the research team that so thoroughly investigated the Utah Zika case could help to prevent the future casual spread of Zika if it influences protocol for those who come into contact with Zika patients.
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