After the World health Organization (WHO) declared it as a global health emergency concern, more facts are surfacing about the Zika virus, as health professionals and experts learn more about it.
The Zika virus started getting the spotlight when Brazil Health officials advises it women to delay pregnancy. The recommendation was due to the alarming rise of cases of babies with microcephaly that is reportedly linked to the Zika virus. Microcephaly is a condition that results to babies with abnormally smaller heads and is associated with neurological problems. As the world tries to combat the spread of the virus and develop a cure or a vaccine, health professionals discovered another way in which the virus is transmitted.
Health advisories have stated that the best way to avoid Zika is to avoid travelling to countries where there the virus is active. If traveling to these countries is inevitable, it's best to take necessary precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
Now, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that people should also refrain from having sex with someone who's been in one of the Zika-infected regions or is ill with Zika.
According to the CDC's report, a man from Texas had travelled to Venezuela, and when he came back to the U.S., it has been confirmed by Dallas County Health Officials that he is infected with the Zika virus--and so is his sexual partner who had not travelled out of the country. This is the first reported case of sexually transmitted Zika since the Brazil outbreak late last year.
While the CDC stressed that there is no risk to a developing fetus for that particular case, it will soon release guidelines on Zika virus's sexual transmission with a "focus on the male sexual partners of women who are or who may not be pregnant." "Now that we know Zika virus can be transmitted through sex, this increases our awareness campaign in educating the public about protecting themselves and others," said Zachary Thompson, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services.
In the past, there have been isolated cases--only two, to be exact--wherein the Zika virus was believed to have been transmitted from one person to another via sexual intercourse. CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden told CNN, "The virus is in the blood for about a week. How long it would remain in the semen is something that needs to be studied and we're working on that now."
ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
"Sexual partners can protect each other by using condoms to prevent spreading sexually transmitted infections," Freiden added. Plus, persons infected with the virus should also protect themselves from mosquito bites since that's how the virus is primarily spread from person to person.
Other documented cases of the Zika virus was transmitted via blood transfusion, laboratory exposure, and during labor. Zika has also been found in breast milk, but it is not yet clear if it can be passed to a baby through nursing
In a recent press briefing, the Department of Health (DOH) secretary Janette Garin said that the Philippines is still Zika-free. “However, the vector Aedes aegypti mosquito—the same type of mosquito that spreads dengue, Chikungunya and yellow fever—is in the Philippines so we are very aggressive in our surveillance and information dissemination,” she said.
Most Zika cases exhibit symptoms that are mild to none. These symptoms mild fever, conjunctivitis, headache, muscle and joint pain, and a rash. Currently, Zika cases are confirmed in 28 countires, mostly in Latin America.
Sources February 3, 2016. "DOH says PH still free of Zika virus" (inquirer.net) February 2, 2016. "Zika has been sexually transmitted in Texas, CDC confirms" (cnn.com) February 2, 2026. "Dallas Reports First Case of Sexual Transmission of Zika Virus" (nbcnews.com)