The first American has died from Zika virus related complications, health officials with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported Friday.
A 70-year-old Puerto Rico resident died from “complications related to severe thrombocytopenia,” meaning a severe loss of platelets, the cells that control bleeding by helping the blood to clot.
“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 reported in its findings.
“It’s of high public health importance that we figure this out and, as quickly as we can, design some interventions to stop it,” said Tyler Sharp, a CDC epidemiologist working in San Juan, Puerto Rico reports The Guardian.
Zika first began spreading in Puerto Rico in December. More than 6,150 people have been tested for infection, with 683 found to have current or recent traces of Zika in Puerto Rico.
No incidents of microcephaly, the severe birth defect where babies are born with shrunken heads and brain damage, have been reported in Puerto Rico, although one has occurred in the mainland US. The CDC said 65 pregnant women in Puerto Rico had been found to have symptoms of the virus since November.
This week the Obama administration announced that it will provide $5 million to Puerto Rican health clinics as reported by KVUE ABC.
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