The Zika Threat Intensifies – Female-to-Male Sexual Contact is also a Factor
In a shocking development of the ongoing Zika saga, it has emerged that a woman has passed the virus on to her male partner. This is the first known case of the virus being transmitted from a female to a male via sexual contact. Until now, the disease has been known to spread sexually only from male partners.
This is the basis for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s recommendation that pregnant women whose male partners may have Zika virus should either use condoms or abstain from sexual contact altogether. It seems now that the CDC will have to revise its recommendations to include male and female partners of women who have the disease. There have not been any established cases of Zika spreading between two female sexual partners, but in the light of the new unpleasant case, who knows.
The young woman in this unprecedented case is in her 20s and had unprotected sex with her male partner after returning to New York from a known Zika hotspot outside the US. She was not pregnant but manifested Zika symptoms was subsequently diagnosed as being infected with the virus. It was only a week later that her partner displayed similar symptoms and similarly tested positive. He had not had sexual relations with anyone else and had not traveled outside the US. to Zika-infected regions.
The prevalent transmission method of Zika is by mosquito bites, as everybody knows. The majority of mosquito bite-transmitted cases in the United States were actually contracted by the patients outside the continental United States, almost exclusively in South America.
In the U.S., sexually transmitted Zika - which, until now, referred exclusively to cases where males gave it to their partners - accounts for just 1% of known cases. The exact method of Zika sexual transmission is still not clear. Samples from one patient showed the presence of the virus in vaginal fluids and this has been confirmed in research done on non-human primates. Currently, it seems that both vaginal fluid and menstrual blood may play a part in Zika transmission by females.
The CDC has now broadened its recommendations to female partners of pregnant women to abstain from sexual contact also. Its website states that it is currently updating such recommendations.
If your partner or you display any Zika symptoms like pain in the joints and muscles, red eyes and skin rash, fever, chills and sweating, it is best to refrain from sexual contact immediately and contact your GP or the CDC at the earliest possible opportunity.