The first case of Zika infection detected in New York City is found in a 48-year-old traveler who lives near Central Park. He had just returned from a long trek through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Easter Island and Hawaii, with a stopover in French Polynesia. The nurse who first saw him, said he pulled his shirt out of his bluejeans and peeled it off, exposing a pinkish rash he said he had had for 11 days:
I took one look and said, ‘Dengue fever. He said, ‘I’m not so sure. I think it’s Zika.’ I’d heard of Zika, but nobody was thinking about Zika. But this is a very, very bright guy. He travels a lot, he knows about safe water and safe altitudes for malaria. He was right on the money, that guy. In Polynesia, he had read articles in the local paper about Zika.
She takes a blood sample and again 20 days later, and sends both samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Their tests showed that he had antibodies to dengue, West Nile and Zika, but the count of Zika antibodies had shot up. The nurse says her patient had found an article about a scientist in Colorado who had infected his wife with the virus after returning from Africa.
Because of that paper, I advised him not to have unprotected sex with his common-law wife. What’s weirder…He knew there were cases of Guillain-Barré connected to it.
Guillain-Barré is a form of temporary paralysis that starts in the hands and feet. If it reaches the lungs the patient can die.