After a case of Zika being transmitted sexually was reported a few weeks ago, there was still some question whether this was simply an isolated incident. But now the Centers for Disease Control is investigating 14 more suspected cases of the mosquito-borne illness having been transmitted through sex. Some new cases involve pregnant women.
In a statement, the CDC said, "These new reports suggest sexual transmission may be a more likely means of transmission for Zika virus than previously considered."
While details are limited at this time, at least two cases involve women contracting the virus from men who traveled to areas where outbreaks are rampant.
In the wake of this news, the CDC is reemphasizing the importance for women to use condoms if they have sexual contact with men who may have been exposed to Zika. This is especially important if you are pregnant, as the virus has been linked to the birth defect microcephaly, which causes a baby to be born with a smaller than average head and brain.
There is no evidence to date that women can transmit the virus to men through sex, but transmission to a baby may be possible during pregnancy or delivery.
Given the scale of the Zika crisis in Brazil and other South American and Caribbean countries, President Obama asked Congress Monday for $1.9 billion to help stem the spread of the virus here at home. The money would go toward research into vaccines and better diagnostic tools and mosquito-control programs in southern states like Florida and Texas, where the illness is most likely to spread.
Although to date it does not seem the virus has entered the U.S. blood supply, the World Health Organization estimates we could see up to 4 million cases in the Americas in the next year. Gulp. Still, it seems extremely positive that our leaders are being highly proactive about combating the virus in the United States, and that information on new developments is plentiful.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.