CDC: 14 more US reports of possible Zika spread through sexual contact

Aedes aegypti mosquito
FILE - This 2006 file photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito in the process of acquiring a blood meal from a human host. The The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, announced new guidance for doctors whose pregnant patients may have traveled to regions with a tropical illness linked to birth defects. Officials say doctors should ask pregnant women about their travel and certain symptoms, and, if warranted, test them for an infection with the Zika virus. The virus is spread through mosquito bites. (James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. health officials are investigating more than a dozen possible Zika infections that may have been spread through sex.

The 14 cases all involve men who visited areas with Zika outbreaks, and who many have infected their female sex partners, who had not traveled to those areas.

Zika virus is mainly spread by mosquito bites, and sexual transmission has been considered rare. There have been two reported cases, including a recent one in Texas, and at least two other reports of the Zika virus found in semen.

Mosquito-borne Zika outbreaks have erupted across most of Latin America and the Caribbean in the last year. So far, all the 82 Zika infections diagnosed in the U.S. have involved people who traveled to outbreak regions.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the 14 possible cases of sexual transmission in the U.S. include two pregnant women whose infections have been confirmed. Tests have not been completed for their male partners.

In four other cases, preliminary tests indicate women were infected but confirmatory tests are pending. Eight other cases are still being investigated, according to a CDC statement.

The agency said there’s no evidence that women can spread the virus to their sex partners, but more research is needed.

In most people, Zika causes mild or no symptoms — fever, joint pain, rash and red eyes — that last about a week. But in Brazil, health officials are investigating a possible connection between the virus and babies born with brain defects and abnormally small heads.

The link hasn’t been confirmed but the possibility has prompted health officials to take cautionary steps to protect fetuses from the virus.

Research is also underway into a possible link between Zika infection and a paralyzing condition in adults called Guillain-Barre syndrome.

The CDC is advising men who have recently been to a Zika outbreak area to use a condom when they have sex with a pregnant women, or to abstain from sex during the pregnancy. It also has recommended that pregnant women postpone trips to more than 30 destinations with outbreaks. The CDC on Tuesday expanded its Zika travel advisory to two more places — the Marshall Islands, and Trinidad and Tobago.

There is no vaccine for Zika. Researchers are scrambling to develop one, as well as better diagnostic tests.

The Zika virus is mostly spread by the same kind of mosquito that transmits other tropical diseases, including dengue and chikungunya. That same mosquito is found in the Southern U.S. and officials expect they will eventually spread the virus, too. But they don’t expect to see major outbreaks.

The CDC recommends that all travelers use insect repellent while in Zika outbreak areas, and continue to use it for three weeks after travel in case they might be infected but not sick. That’s to prevent mosquitoes from biting them and possibly spreading Zika to others in the U.S.

WIVB.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s