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CDC Reports on New Mode of Zika Transmission

JUL 15, 2016 | CONTAGION EDITORIAL STAFF
On the heels of new data suggesting the Zika epidemic will last for another 3 years, a new case reveals there may be a new mode of zika transmission.
 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that males may now be susceptible to sexual transmission of the Zika virus through intercourse with females. Previously, the CDC reported that the Zika virus can be transferred in semen excreted during vaginal, oral, and anal sex. However, a recent case reported in New York City is the first to indicate that a female may also be able to pass on the virus to a male through bodily fluids excreted during sexual intercourse. 
 
Infection with the Zika virus is known to be most harmful in pregnant women. There has been consensus that Zika infection may cause microcephaly in infected fetuses. Further analyses of the congenital effects of Zika have also proved that the virus may cause neurological impairments that may not be detectable through microcephaly testing.
 
In addition to fetal complications, the virus has also been confirmed by the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control to cause Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) in adults. According to the CDC, this rare illness causes a person’s immune system to attack its nerve cells, resulting in weakening of the muscles, and maybe even paralysis. Severe GBS can impact a person’s ability to breathe. It is possible to recover from the effects of GBS, which may last up to a month; however, GBS may result in permanent damage in some, and death in 1 in 20 cases.
 
The CDC recommends that women who are pregnant should either refrain from sexual intercourse with partners who have recently travelled to Zika endemic areas, or use “barrier methods” during intercourse.
 
Recommendations regarding sexual transmission of the Zika virus for those who are concerned about infection with the virus through sexual intercourse are currently being updated by the CDC.
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