US & Canada

First US Zika death reported in Puerto Rico

Mosquito in lab in Puerto Rico Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mosquito in lab in Puerto Rico

The first known death in the US to the Zika virus has been recorded in Puerto Rico, say health officials.

A 70-year-old man infected with the mosquito-borne virus died in February, Puerto Rico's health secretary said.

The US territory has recorded more than 600 Zika cases, with 73 of those involving pregnant women.

Zika has been linked to severe birth defects, especially in Latin America, such as babies being born with under-developed brains.

Health secretary Ana Rius said all 14 pregnant women infected with Zika who have given birth have healthy babies.

Seventeen people on the island have been in hospital, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said.

Five are thought to have developed a temporary paralysis condition known as Guillain-Barre because of Zika, although that link is unproven.

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"The patient died of complications related to severe thrombocytopenia," the CDC 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."