Can the Zika Virus Be Sexually Transmitted?

A man in a hazmat suit tries to kill mosquitoes in Brazil with pesticide fogging. Zika can be sexually transmitted and one case has been reported in Texas. (Getty)

Can the Zika virus be sexually transmitted? Can someone catch Zika by having sex? There was one known report of Zika being caught through sexual intercourse, dating back to 2009, and now another case in Texas has just been confirmed. Although it’s been known that Zika could be transmitted by mosquito bites, and from an infected mother to her baby, this additional type of transmission has been suspected and now confirmed.

Here’s what you need to know.


The CDC Confirmed a Case of Zika Being Spread Sexually in Dallas

The CDC confirmed with the Dallas County Health and Human Services that the first case of Zika being transmitted sexually in recent years happened in Dallas County, CBS DFW reported. The original patient had contracted Zika while being in a country where Zika viruses are prevalent. That person had sex with someone in Dallas, who then contracted the illness in 2016. No additional identifying information was released in order to preserve medical privacy.

Zika can also be spread by if you’re bitten by an infected mosquito. The virus can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby. For more information on the Zika virus, please see the following story:


This Is the Second Time Zika Has Been Confirmed to Be Sexually Transmitted

This is the second confirmed case of Zika being transmitted sexually, although experts didn’t want to claim that it could definitely be transmitted this way until there was more proof. The first case happened in 2009. Brian Foy, a biologist from Colorado University, had been bitten by numerous mosquitoes while in Senegal, Science Magazine reported. He returned to the U.S. and before he got sick, he had sex with his wife. He then came down with a confirmed case of Zika and when his wife also fell ill, she was tested too. She was confirmed to have Zika and, because she had not traveled to Senegal, it was determined she caught it from having sex with her husband.

A paper published by the CDC in February 2015 reported that the Zika virus was found in a patient’s semen in French Polynesia, confirming that transmission through sexual intercourse was possible. The ZIKV RNA was found in his semen even after it was no longer detectable in his blood, a little over two weeks after he last reported having Zika symptoms. At this time, it’s not known how long a person can transmit Zika sexually after being infected.

There has also been one reported case of Zika possibly being spread through a blood transfusion.


Experts Recommend Abstinence or Condoms to Not Catch Zika Sexually

Zachary Thompson, the DCHHS director, said that because Zika can be transmitted through sex, the best way to prevent its spread is like any other STD, through abstinence or using condoms. Symptoms of Zika include fever, rash, joint paint, and red eyes. The illness is usually mild and can last up to a week. The biggest danger from Zika is actually to pregnant women who can pass it on to their babies, who can then develop severe birth defects like microcephaly.

The most prevalent way to catch Zika is still through mosquito bites. Zika has not yet been actively transmitted from infected mosquitoes to people within the United States. Cases so far in the U.S. can be traced back to countries where Zika is prevalent.

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