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ATLANTA — It was a call that public health officials were dreading, but for which they had prepared. An elderly man in Salt Lake City died after contracting the Zika virus, the first fatality from the disease in the continental United States. His son, who had been a caregiver, also had become sick, but health officials did not know how.

Dr. Shannon Novosad was on a plane to Utah the next day, one of 10 detectives looking for answers about this case to help other professionals deal with this rapidly growing health problem.

Novosad is a critical care pulmonologist by training, but she is also in a two-year fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Epidemiological Intelligence Service. Her colleagues in the program include about 80 medical and scientific professionals who study disease prevalence, patterns and control. The group includes dentists, doctors, veterinarians and entomologists.

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Image: courtesy of CDC via KHN

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