WHO Warns of Sexual Spread of Zika Virus
Amid the frenzy that is the Zika virus there have emerged stories of an entirely different way the illness can be transferred – by sexual contact. Up until now, the virus was almost exclusively carried by mosquitoes.
But the World Health Organization (WHO) voiced concern on Wednesday over a report the Zika virus had been sexually transmitted in the United States and called for further investigation. The first known case of Zika virus transmission in the U.S. was reported in Dallas on Tuesday by local health officials, who said it likely was contracted through sex and not a mosquito bite.
There were previous hints that sexual contact may be a method of infection. "This is the only the second mooted case of sexual transmission,” WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said, referring to media reports about a case of an American man who returned from Senegal in 2008 and is suspected of having infected his wife.
The virus is linked to babies born with abnormally small heads and birth defects in Brazil. Now it’s spreading rapidly throughout the Americas and the WHO declared an international public health emergency on Monday about the condition known as microcephaly.
“There are many things we don’t know about Zika,” Hartl said. “Lots of surveillance is needed … We have our team set up and are sure there will be lots of progress quickly.”
Don’t miss this week’s Slice of History: Longest Surgery: Feb.4-8, 1951