Texas has recorded the first case of Zika virus but in a completely different way – a sexual transmission. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed this on Tuesday. It is the first known case of the virus being locally acquired in the continental United States in the current outbreak.
The case announced by Dallas County health officials, involved a patient who had sex with someone who had recently returned from Venezuela infected with the mosquito-borne virus, the CDC said it confirmed the test results showing Zika present in the blood of a “non-traveler in the continental United States.” They stressed that there was no risk to a developing fetus in this instance.
Based on that, the CDC says it will soon provide guidance on sexual transmission, with a “focus on the male sexual partners of women who are or who may be pregnant.”
Earlier Tuesday, CDC Director, Tom Frieden told CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta:
“There have been isolated cases of spread through blood transfusion or sexual contact and that’s not very surprising. 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.”
Frieden added that although studies on sexual transmission are not easy studies to do, but the CDC is continuing to explore that avenue of transmission and will provide more guidance as more information on sexual transmission is learned.
He concludes by advising sexual partners to protect themselves by using condom and those already infected protect others by preventing additional bites from mosquitoes.
“Sexual partners can protect each other by using condoms to prevent spreading sexually transmitted infections. People who have Zika virus infection can protect others by preventing additional mosquito bites.”
Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is also known to carry the dengue, yellow fever and Chikungunya viruses and has now spread to at least 24 countries.
WHO estimates 3 million to 4 million people across the Americas will be infected with the virus in the next year.