CDC Confirms First U.S. Case of Zika Virus Transmitted Through Sex
As if it wasn't scary enough that the Zika virus can spread through mosquito bites, and that it can cause major birth defects like brain damage and microcephaly (abnormally small head; pictured at left), now we have learned about the first confirmed case of the virus being transmitted sexually in Texas.
The Dallas County Health and Human Services Department released a statement with limited information, including only that the virus had been transmitted through sex by someone who had visited Venezuela, one of the countries where Zika is rampant, to another person who had not visited an affected area.
"This significance is parallel with the HIV/AIDS case," Alaka Basu, a senior fellow for public health at the UN Foundation, told the BBC. "It's worse in some ways, because there are two modes of transmission."
Yup, terrifying. Especially if you are TTC, or if you are pregnant and may, I don't know, want to have sex with your partner! Because now not only do you have to worry about Zika coming to the U.S. via mosquitoes—after you've canceled your babymoon, of course—and how you would go about living your daily life to avoid getting bitten by an infected mosquito, but now, NOW you have to obsess about your partner getting infected, and how that could potentially impact the life of your unborn baby.
Remember, no cases of the virus being transmitted from a mosquito in this country have been reported. The only U.S. cases involve people who were infected while out of the country. And in this latest case of sexual transmission, thankfully there was no unborn baby involved.
The situation is clearly very fluid, and doctors and scientists are learning new things every day. The best we can do, clearly, is to take the information as it comes, and not panic, but rather listen to what experts are saying.
Based on what we know now, the best way to avoid Zika virus infection is to prevent mosquito bites. Sexual partners can protect themselves by using condoms to prevent spreading sexually transmitted infections. People who have Zika virus infection can protect others by preventing additional mosquito bites.
At this point, we know that during pregnancy, or while TTC, travel to Brazil and the other 27 countries and territories with confirmed outbreaks is very unwise. Pregnant women who live in or travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other healthcare professional first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip. Pregnant women should also avoid exposure to semen from someone who has been exposed to Zika virus. And women trying to become pregnant should consult with their healthcare professional if their partner has had exposure to Zika virus.
Beyond that, the CDC plans to issue more guidance in the next few days on Zika virus prevention, so stay tuned.
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.