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Zika Virus Can Be Transmitted Through Sex; U.S. Health Officials Confirm First Case In Texas

by Diana Tomale / Feb 03, 2016 06:35 PM EST
A 5-month old baby born with microcephaly in Brazil. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

U.S. health officials have confirmed the first known case in Texas of a Zika virus transmission through sexual contact. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent the confirmation to the Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) on Tuesday.

"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," DCHHS Director Zachary Thompson said. "Next to abstinence, condoms are the best prevention method against any sexually-transmitted infections."

CNN reported Wednesday that the first case involved a patient who reportedly acquired the virus after having sexual contact with someone who had just arrived from Venezuela, whom they believe was infected with Zika virus.

With this, the CDC said they will present assistance on sexual transmission focusing "on the male sexual partners of women who are or who may be pregnant."

In an email to The Guardian Wednesday, the CDC recommended that pregnant women or those who are expecting to become pregnant should "consult with their healthcare professional if their partner has had exposure to Zika 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 said.

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that has been associated to thousands of babies born with microcephaly. Reports revealed that no medication and vaccination are currently available to treat the infection.

Just recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the spread of the virus a global public health emergency.

"I am now declaring that the recent cluster of microcephaly and other neurological abnormalities reported in Latin America following a similar cluster in French Polynesia in 2014 constitutes a public health emergency of international concern," said WHO Director General Margaret Chan.

She added that the main concern is to protect pregnant women as well as babies from infection.

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