A case of Zika virus that was sexually transmitted has been reported in Dallas, Texas.
The virus had, up until this reported case, been identified as being solely transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) told BBC that the patient is likely to have been infected by sexual contact. The report has further fueled the fears of the disease’s rapid spread which is blamed for the current incidence of brain-damaged babies.
The person had apparently not traveled to any of the infected areas, which include; some parts of Africa, parts of southern Europe, and many parts of Asia especially south Asia, an updated list can be viewed here. The patient’s partner had however recently returned from Venezuela.
The health authorities had initially informed the general public that the Zika virus needs a vector, which is basically a means of transportation, to infect people and the vector was the said Aedes aegypti mosquito, they had however been on the lookout for an increased possibility of sexual transmission. The CDC had last month spoken of its awareness of one case of sexual transmission of Zika and another case where the virus was still present in a man’s semen after it had disappeared from his blood. The virus also has the possibility of being transmitted by blood but it is an infrequent mechanism and can be avoided by sticking to the normal recommendations for safe transfusions.
There is no doubt that sexual transmissions complicates issues further, as the risk is now decentralized to every country, and no longer a question of whether the Aedes aegypti mosquito is present there. Although we are assured by the authorities that sexual transmissions are rare, a couple of questions are still unavoidable, the first of which is; just how common or rare will the sexual transmission prove to be? Last year, the Zika virus itself was considered quite rare. Will it be spread by asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) people? Which have been ascertained to make up a bulk of the virus sufferers. How long will the virus persist in the semen and therefore when does it become safe to have sex again?
There is still a lot of ignorance on this note and we will continue to look to the health experts for answers.