WHO: Sexual transmission of Zika more common than thought

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)

GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization says reports from several countries suggest that sexual transmission of the Zika virus is more common than previously thought.

After a meeting of its emergency committee on Tuesday, the U.N. health agency also said there is increasing evidence that a spike in disturbing birth defects is caused by Zika, which is mostly spread by mosquito bites.

Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said “reports and investigations in several countries strongly suggest that sexual transmission of the virus is more common than previously assumed.”

The agency last month said the outbreak in the Americas constitutes a global emergency.

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