Infectious Diseases

Updated 23 March 2016

14 more US reports of possible Zika virus spread through sex

The CDC is advising men who have recently been to a Zika Virus outbreak area to use a condom when they have sex with a pregnant woman, or to abstain from sex during the pregnancy.


U.S. health officials are investigating 14 possible Zika virus infections that may have been spread through sex.

Sexual transmission of Zika virus considered rare

The 14 cases all include men who went to territories with Zika virus outbreaks, and who then infected their female sex partners, who had not made a trip to those zones.

Zika virus infection is primarily spread by mosquito bites, and sexual transmission has been viewed as uncommon. There have been two reported cases, including a recent one in Texas, and no less than two different reports of the Zika virus found in semen. 

Read: Why Africa can’t afford a Zika outbreak

Mosquito-borne Zika flare-ups have erupted over the majority of Latin America and the Caribbean this year. So far, all the 82 Zika infections analyzed in the U.S. have included individuals who have flown to areas of known outbreaks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the 14 instances of sexual transmission in the U.S. incorporate two women whose infections have been confirmed. Tests have not been finished for their male partners. 

More research needed

In four different cases, preliminary tests show women were infected but corroborative tests are pending. Eight different cases are still being investigated, according to the CDC report.

A few of the 14 are pregnant, however the CDC declined to release more information. 

Read: How the Zika virus can cause Guillain-Barre syndrome

The organization has said that there is no proof that women can spread the infection to their sexual partners, and more research is required.

In the vast majority of cases, Zika causes mild to moderate symptoms – fever, joint pain, rash and red eyes – that last around a week. Yet, in Brazil, health authorities are researching a possible association between the infection and babies conceived with brain deformities and shrunken heads.

The link hasn't been confirmed however, and the likelihood has provoked health authorities to find a way to shield babies from the infection.

Examination is also in progress into a possible connection between Zika infection and a paralysing condition in adults called Guillain-Barre disorder.

Read: Brazil's Zika-related abortion debate sparks backlash

The CDC is urging men who have been to a Zika outbreak zone to utilize a condom when they engage in sexual relations with a pregnant woman, or to refrain from sex during the pregnancy. It has also prescribed that pregnant women defer trips to more than 30 destinations with flare-ups. The CDC has extended its Zika tourism warning to two more places – the Marshall Islands, and Trinidad and Tobago. 

Insect repellent

There is no immunization for Zika. Analysts are scrambling to create one, and in addition, better demonstrative testing.

The Zika infection is generally spread by the same sort of mosquito that transmits other tropical ailments, including dengue and chikungunya. That same mosquito is found in the Southern U.S. and what's more, authorities expect they will inevitably spread the infection, as well. However, they don't expect to see significant outbreaks.

The CDC prescribes that all travellers use insect repellent while in Zika flare-up regions, and keep on utilizing it for three weeks afterwards on the off-chance that they may be infected and not ill. The reason being to keep mosquitoes from biting them and conceivably spreading Zika to others in the U.S. 

Read more: 

US may develop vaccine for Zika virus 

Zika virus can leave children with lifelong health woes 

US issues blood-donating guidelines to combat Zika