CDC: 14 Possible New Zika Cases Transmitted By Sex
Men who've recently traveled to endemic areas should abstain from sex or use a condom, agency says
By Dennis Thompson
TUESDAY, Feb. 23, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Fourteen U.S. cases of possible sexual transmission of the Zika virus are now under investigation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency announced on Tuesday.
The cases highlight the still-evolving understanding of how the virus might transmit between couples, and the potential danger to the fetus, the CDC said.
Babies born to mothers infected with the Zika virus can develop microcephaly, a condition where infants have smaller heads and the potential for long-term developmental issues.
Transmission of Zika via a mosquito bite has been thought to be the primary mode of infection, but sexual transmission may also occur, the CDC said.
"In two of the new suspected sexual transmission events, Zika virus infection has been confirmed in women whose only known risk factor was sexual contact with an ill male partner who had recently traveled to an area with local Zika virus transmission," the CDC noted in a news release. "Testing for the male partners is still pending," they added.
For the other 12 suspected cases of sexual transmission, four have been supported in preliminary lab tests but depend on other tests to confirm a Zika infection, while eight more cases involve an "ongoing" investigation, the CDC said.
"In all events for which information is available, travelers were men and reported symptom onset was within 2 weeks before the non-traveling female partner's symptoms [of Zika infection] began," the agency said.
On Feb. 5, the CDC issued an advisory on the potential sexual transmission of Zika after laboratory confirmation of the first such case in the continental United States.
The CDC stressed that, "although sexual transmission of Zika virus infection is possible, mosquito bites remain the primary way that Zika virus is transmitted."
However, the CDC advises that men who live in or have recently traveled from a Zika-endemic area should abstain from sex or use a condom with a pregnant or non-pregnant partner.
How long would these precautions be warranted? The CDC is not yet sure. "The science is not clear on how long the risk should be avoided," the agency said. "Research is now underway to answer this question as soon as possible. If you are trying to get pregnant, you may consider testing in discussion with your health care provider."