Sexual transmission of Zika virus

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The Zika virus is generally spread through mosquito bites. But now, it is believed that the Zika virus can also be sexually transmitted from one person to another. According to the U.S. CDC, Zika virus stays in semen longer than in blood.

As of February 3, 2016 only three cases of Zika virus through sexual transmission is documented.

First case

The first case of the sexual transmission of Zika virus was reported in 2008. A Colorado microbiologist named Brian Foy who was infected with Zika virus in Senegal in 2008 returned home in the United States. He is believed to have infected his wife through sexual transmission. His wife came down with virus symptoms a few days later even though she hasn't left northern Colorado and was not exposed to any mosquitoes carrying the virus. The probable sexual transmission occurred a few days before the man's symptom onset. The case was reported in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Emerging Infectious Diseases journal. However, at that time, the CDC said that much research was needed before it can be confirmed.

In the 2013 Zika outbreak in French Polynesia, semen and urine samples from a 44-year-old Tahitian man tested positive for Zika even when blood samples did not.

First case in the United States

On February 2, 2016, the first confirmed case of Zika virus transmission through sexual contact in the United States was reported in Texas. The National IHR Focal Point for the United States of America notified PAHO/WHO of a probable case of sexual transmission of Zika virus on 5 February.

A patient from Dallas County of Texas traveled to Venezuela for one week between late December and beginning of January. Several days after returning back, he developed symptoms of Zika virus. One day prior to the onset of symptoms, the person had sex with another person, who hasn't traveled outside the United States recently. The second person developed Zika symptoms approximately after one week of the onset of symptoms in the first person. The laboratory tests for both the patients confirmed Zika virus infection.

The CDC has confirmed the case of transmission of Zika virus through sexual transmission. "CDC has confirmed through laboratory testing the first case of Zika virus infection in a non-traveler in the continental United States. According to a Dallas County Health Department investigation, a person who recently traveled to an area with Zika virus transmission returned to the United States and developed Zika-like symptoms. The person later tested positive for Zika, along with their sexual partner, who had not traveled to the area."

The American Center for Disease Control said that Zika virus will be in the blood of an infected person for a week. It is yet to be determined how long the virus will be in the semen of an infected person.

On February 5, 2016 the Centers for Disease Control has issued guidelines for prevention of sexual transmission of Zika virus.

  • Men exposed to the Zika virus and who have a pregnant partner should use a condom or abstain from sex until the baby is born
  • pregnant women who have been exposed to Zika should talk with their doctors about testing for the virus.

On 12 February 2016, researches announced that Zika virus can be detected in semen for 62 days after a person is infected. Traces of the Zika virus was found in the semen of a 68-year old British man two months after he contracted the virus. The infected person had traveled to French Polynesia in 2014 where he contracted the virus. Follow up tests after 27 days and 62 days revealed the presence of the virus in his semen.

First case in France

The first Zika case in France that was spread through sexual transmission was reported on 27 February 2016. A woman was infected with Zika virus when her male partner returned from Brazil. The case was announced by French health minister Marisol Touraine.

Contraception

The Catholic Church at the Vatican City doesn't support using contraception. The Roman Catholic teachings ban use of contraception.

However, on 18 February 2016, in view of the Zika virus and its effects on pregnant women and foetuses, Pope Francis has hinted that use of contraception by women at risk of contracting the Zika virus may be permissible. This is a significant departure from previous Catholic teaching. The Pope said avoid pregnancy was "not an absolute evil". However, the Pope insisted that abortion was still considered a crime. The Pope's responses came to a question about how best to tackle Zika virus outbreak across Latin America. "Abortion is not a theological problem. It is a human problem, medical. One person is killed to save another. It is evil in itself, it is not a religious evil, it is a human evil. Avoiding a pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, or in the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it is clear," the Pope said.

2016

On 23 February 2016, it is learnt that the U.S. health officials are investigating at least 14 cases of Zika virus that are suspected to have spread through sexual transmission. All the 14 cases involve men who traveled to destinations where Zika virus is active and the women have no recent history of traveling outside the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed Zika virus in two pregnant women out of the 14 cases. Zika tests for their male partner is pending.