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First case of Zika contracted in U.S. was sexually transmitted, officials say

By WITW Staff on February 3, 2016

The first case of Zika to be contracted within the United States was confirmed in Dallas, Texas, and was sexually transmitted according to health officials, which would make it only the second confirmed case of the virus being passed between humans through sexual contact. The infected person had not traveled herself, but was a sexual partner of a traveler who is believed to have returned to the U.S. already infected with the Zika virus. While it had been reported previously by the CDC that sexual transmission could be a “plausible” way of spreading the virus, so far this has not been scientifically confirmed. In an email to The Guardian, however, the CDC for the first time cautions that a woman who is pregnant or trying to become pregnant should consult with a health-care professional in case their partner has been exposed to the virus. “Based on what we know now, the best way to avoid Zika virus infection is to prevent mosquito bites AND to avoid exposure to semen from someone who has been exposed to Zika virus or has been ill from Zika virus infection,” the CDC wrote, adding that it has not yet made any recommendations regarding the sexual transmission of the virus.

Health experts caution that more research is needed, but Peter Horby, a professor of tropical medicine and infectious diseases at Oxford University, called the news of the Texas infection “not entirely unexpected, but certainly unwelcome.” He continued, “It adds weight to the evidence that sexual transmission is a real risk, and raises many questions and dilemmas.” “This highlights our ignorance of this virus and the need for an urgent, comprehensive and coordinated research response.” So far, no vaccine to prevent the virus is available, and on  Monday, the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus to be a global health emergency.

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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