Puerto Rico reports elderly victim infected with Zika dies

In this Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016 photo, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes sit in a petri dish at the Fiocruz institute in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil. The mosquito is a vector for the proliferation of the Zika virus spreading throughout Latin America. New figures from Brazil's Health Ministry show that the Zika virus outbreak has not caused as many confirmed cases of a rare brain defect as first feared. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Health officials announced Friday that an elderly person infected with Zika has died in Puerto Rico as the U.S. territory battles what federal authorities call a silent epidemic.

The victim was a 75-year-old man who was hospitalized and died from health ailments unrelated to Zika, according to Health Secretary Ana Rius. She said no more details would be provided, and health officials did not respond to requests for further comment.

Officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention referred all questions to Puerto Rico’s Health Department.

The first Zika-related death was reported in late April and involved a 70-year-old man from the San Juan metro area. He suffered internal bleeding after developing a condition in which antibodies that formed in response to a Zika infection began attacking blood platelet cells. At the time, Rius said there were three other cases of the condition known as severe thrombocytopenia and that those patients recovered.

Puerto Rico has a total of 8,776 Zika cases, with 1,480 new cases reported this past week. There are now 901 pregnant women with Zika, which has been linked to severe birth defects. The director of the CDC has said he is concerned many of those women could give birth to babies with microcephaly. However, Rius said all 95 of pregnant women with Zika who have given birth have healthy babies.

A total of 88 people in Puerto Rico have been hospitalized because of Zika, and 27 have been diagnosed with a temporary paralysis condition called Guillain-Barre that has been linked to the mosquito-borne virus.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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