In a rare and shocking departure from what we have been used to in the last couple of weeks, a rare case of Zika disease transmitted through sex has now been reported in the United States, reports the BBC.
A patient infected in Dallas, Texas, is reported to have likely been infected by sexual contact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), per the BBC. The report adds that the person involved had not made any trip to areas reportedly infected by the virus, but the partner had returned from Venezuela.
The virus, which is carried and spread by mosquitoes, has been linked to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains. Currently, there has been an outbreak in countries in Latin America, with Brazil being the most affected, with about 4,000 cases reported.
The disease, which is currently spreading through the Americas, was declared an emergency by the World Health Organization last Monday during an emergency meeting it held over the outbreak, which it said could affect 4 million people.
To this end, the American Red Cross has urged prospective blood donors just returning from countries hit by the virus to wait at least 28 days before donating their blood.
The “self-deferral” should apply to people returning from Mexico, the Caribbean or Central or South America during the past four weeks, the Red Cross said in a statement, per the BBC.
Brazil is currently investigating 3,600 suspected cases of microcephaly in babies linked to the Zika virus.
According to James Gallagher, the BBC Health Editor, the possibility of Zika spreading through sex poses a serious challenge to “every country,” and not just those with the Aedes mosquito (the mosquito responsible for the virus).
Though, authorities did say sexual transmission is rare, one wonders if such view won’t change now considering recent development in Dallas, Texas.
This outbreak poses a lot of questions, especially to the World Health Organization on how prepared the world body is in terms of tackling the situation, giving the outcry that greeted the handling of the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in 2014 where 11,000 people were infected.
Like I said, this raises a lot of questions, and the sooner some of them were answered, the better and quicker we are likely to have a solution. Some of the questions that might be asked include; what should men do after visiting affected areas? Can women also spread the virus through sex?
Already there has been seven reported cases of the virus in Texas (not related to sex) all related to overseas travel.
However, Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director for CDC, said this was the first case it had dealt with involving a “non-traveller”.
“We don’t believe this was spread through mosquito bites, but we do believe it was spread through a sexual contact.”
A statement issued by the CDC said the best way to avoid Zika virus infection was “to prevent mosquito bites and to avoid exposure to semen from someone who has been exposed to Zika“.