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CDC Releases New Zika Virus Guidance as New Sexual Transmission Information Emerges

OCT 05, 2016 | BRIAN P. DUNLEAVY
Researchers at the Hospital Universitario La Paz in Madrid, meanwhile, described a case involving “probable” sexual transmission of Zika virus from a 53-year-old male to his 51-year-old wife. The couple had traveled to the Maldives, where the male sustained a mosquito bite, which resulted in infection. Some 18 days after their return home, his wife developed Zika symptoms. Of note, the male had undergone a vasectomy in 2007.
 
“Although the woman might have acquired Zika virus by mosquito bite, the incubation period if this is the case would be exceptionally long, so sexual transmission from her partner is definitely a possibility,” they write. “Sexual transmission of Zika virus infection from a vasectomized man has not previously been reported.”
 
As new information continues to emerge regarding sexual transmission of Zika virus and the disease’s effect on pregnant women and their babies, the CDC has focused renewed attention on prevention in pregnant women and women who plan to become pregnant. Of the more than 25,000 Zika cases in the United States and its territories, 2,300 have involved pregnant women, and 22 babies have been born with microcephaly, a birth defect associated with the virus, and have tested positive for Zika, the CDC reports.
 
CDC director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, said recently that the agency’s partnership with Colombia’s Instituto Nacional de Salud on a study designed to assess the effects of Zika on babies born to pregnant women infected with the virus should shed new light on how birth defects such as microcephaly develop and, ultimately, how they can be prevented. The study has, to date, enrolled more than 1,000 pregnant women.
 
“There’s a lot we still don’t know about the long-term problems caused by Zika congenital syndrome,” Dr. Frieden said on a recent conference call with reporters. The study, he added, will be supported with some of the $1.1 billion in Zika funds recently approved by Congress.
 
Brian P. Dunleavy is a medical writer and editor based in New York. His work has appeared in numerous healthcare-related publications. He is the former editor of Infectious Disease Special Edition.
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