New York City health officials have identified the first suspected woman-to-man sexual transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus.
The unnamed woman “engaged in a single event of condomless vaginal intercourse with a male partner the day she returned to NYC from travel to an area with ongoing Zika virus transmission,” said Alexander Davidson with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. At the time, the woman was showing symptoms of Zika infection. A week later, the man she had intercourse with was also diagnosed with Zika and exhibiting symptoms such as fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis.
Researchers determined that the man had no other opportunity to acquire the infection and concluded that it must have been transmitted during sexual intercourse with the infected woman. This is the first document report of female-to-male Zika transmission.
There have been previous reports of male-to-female transmission of Zika. The news that women could spread the virus through sexual contact isn’t surprising to those involved in Zika research. Previous studies have identified the virus in the genital tract of infected women.
Only about 20 percent of people infected by Zika actually have symptoms, which are generally mild. In rare cases, those infected can develop Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rapid-onset muscle weakness that can cause temporary paralysis. Zika virus in pregnant women can result in babies being born with microcephaly, a birth defect in which the baby’s head is significantly smaller than expected, often due to abnormal brain development.
The CDC announced it is “currently updating its 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” in light of the announcement.
Source: MedPage Today