Health officials: Sexual transmission of Zika more common than once believed

Health officials: Sexual transmission of Zika more common than once believed

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - It was a little known virus a year ago, but as scientists discover more about Zika and its effects, the warnings are more far-reaching than just staying away from mosquitoes.

"With now having a case of somebody, a woman who engaged in sexually activity with another woman, became infected, perhaps now we need to worry a little bit more what might be in cervical or vaginal fluids that can be transmitted to another woman," Tulane University Infectious Disease Specialist Susan McLellan said.

McLellan reassured the most common form of Zika transmission is still through mosquito bites.

There have been more than 1,400 travel-associated cases of people going to Central and South American countries and bringing the virus back to the United States. That is compared to just 15 cases of Zika virus transmitted sexually in the country.

But doctors have found it is more likely for men to transmit the virus sexually than women, and a pregnant woman can possibly become infected through various types of sex, including oral sex.

"It's like all things. We know a lot more about Ebola than we knew two years ago. It's a matter of when it becomes something that is seen as a risk. Funding comes out. Research comes out, and we learn a lot more," McLellan said.

"In men, it's been found in semen up to about three months after infection and even in the genital fluids of women it's probably there for a week or two at least," LSU Head of Neurology Dr. John England said.

England visits and researches Zika in the countries with outbreaks.

He advised people in Louisiana to stay up to date with the possible spreading of Zika, especially if they plan on becoming pregnant.

"If a woman is pregnant in an endemic area, she should either abstain from sex or having protected sex with condoms and barrier methods for the duration of the pregnancy," England said.

Experts also warn about 80 percent of people who contract Zika show no signs of having the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control is still trying to determine if two people contracted Zika from mosquitoes in South Florida.

If that is the case, it would be the first confirmed cases of Zika contracted in the United States through the insects.

Many people infected with Zika virus won't have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms. According to the CDC The most common symptoms of Zika are:



Joint pain

Conjunctivitis (red eyes)

Other symptoms include:

Muscle pain


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