American health officials in Texas say they’ve confirmed what appears to be the first case of Zika virus transmitted through sexual intercourse in the country.
The patient was infected with the virus after having sex with a traveller who had just returned from a country battling the mosquito-borne virus.
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“Now that we know Zika virus can be transmitted through sex, this increases our awareness campaign in educating the public about protecting themselves and others,” Zachary Thompson, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, said in a statement.
“Next to abstinence, condoms are the best prevention method against any sexually-transmitted infections,” he warned.
On Monday, the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus epidemic in Latin America an international public health emergency.
There are four recently confirmed cases of Zika virus in Canada, but they were all acquired through travelling to countries where the virus is actively circulating.
On Friday, Dr. Gregory Taylor stressed the risk of the mosquito-borne virus to Canadians is “very, very low.”
“Although it is possible that persons travelling abroad may contract the virus and return to Canada, the Zika virus does not present a significant public health risk to Canadians,” Taylor said at a media briefing about the virus that’s rapidly spreading through Latin America.
“The mosquitoes known to transmit the virus are not established in Canada and are not well suited to our climate. For this reason the risk of Zika virus infection in Canada is considered very low,” he explained.
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Scientists have also gathered preliminary research on the potential spread of Zika virus through sexual intercourse or blood transfusions.
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The Canadian experts told reporters that the virus has been detected in semen for up to two weeks, for example.
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