Since 2015, the Zika virus has been found in 48 countries, prompting scientists from around the world to research how the virus spreads. Unfortunately, Zika continues to not only spread to new areas, but also in new ways. According to Mashable, New York City recently reported the first known case of the virus being transmitted from a woman to her male partner through unprotected sex.
According to research by the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO), previous cases where the Zika virus was spread from human to human saw the infection pass from a male to another partner, either male or female. The recent NYC case is the first recorded instance of the virus initiating in a woman and being subsequently passed to her partner through unprotected intercourse.
The Zika virus has been proved to cause microcephaly, a heart-breaking condition where babies are born with severe brain abnormalities. Until recently, much of the focus has been on men passing the virus through sex since studies have shown that the virus can be present in semen for up to two months or more after the virus’ symptoms dissipate. As a preventative measure, the CDC has therefore recommended that couples practice safe sex or abstain entirely for at least eight weeks after returning from a country where Zika is present.
So far, there have been over 300 cases of the Zika virus found in New York City, but in every case, the virus was contracted while patients were visiting other countries with active Zika transmission through mosquito bites. Although worrisome, the new female-to-male Zika case in NYC will not likely make a difference in the health organization’s current advice.
“Although no cases of woman-to-woman Zika transmission have been reported, these recommendations now also apply to female sex partners of pregnant women,” the CDC said in a statement on Friday.
“The CDC is currently updating recommendations for sexually active people in which the couple is not pregnant or concerned about pregnancy and for people who want to reduce personal risk of Zika infection through sex.”