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A Mysterious New Zika Case

There’s a new case of Zika in Utah, and no one seems quite sure where it came from.

Utah health officials launched an investigation on Monday into how an elderly resident who died after contracting the Zika virus following a trip abroad may have passed the virus along to family contact serving as a caretaker. Although the deceased patient’s blood had a “uniquely high” amount of Zika virus, according to the Utah Department of Health (UDOH), the newly diagnosed caretaker hasn’t left the country or had sex with anyone infected with the virus. State and federal officials aren’t sure what to make of the mysterious infection.

A team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating how this latest individual — the eighth Utah resident to be diagnosed with Zika — came down with the virus.

“Our knowledge of this virus continues to evolve and our investigation is expected to help us better understand how this individual became infected,” Dr. Angela Dunn, deputy state epidemiologist at the UDOH, said in a statement on Monday. “Based on what we know so far about this case, there is no evidence that there is any risk of Zika virus transmission among the general public in Utah.”

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the species closely linked with Zika’s spread, are not typically found in Utah; their range is limited mostly to Southern states and portions of the Eastern seaboard. Monday’s announcement raises questions as to whether there could be new routes of transmission to contract the virus.