First Female-to-Male Sexual Transmission of Zika Reported in New York City

The first documented case of female-to-male sexual transmission of the Zika Virus has been reported

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The first documented case of female-to-male sexual transmission of the Zika virus has been reported in New York City, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday.

All previously reported cases of sexually-transmitted Zika virus infections have been spread from men to their sex partners.

“This represents the first reported occurrence of female-to-male sexual transmission of Zika virus,” said a report issued by the CDC and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The woman, who has been identified as a nonpregnant woman in her twenties, had engaged in condomless sex with a male partner the day she returned from traveling to a country with ongoing Zika transmission, according to the report.

The following day, she developed fever, fatigue, rash, back pain, numbness and tingling in her hands and feet and a heavier-than-usual period. A DNA test two days later confirmed that she had Zika.

Her male partner, who had not traveled to a Zika-hit region, developed symptoms of Zika a week later, and a test revealed he had also contracted the virus.

It’s unclear whether the virus was exposed to her male partner via vaginal fluids or menstrual blood. The CDC report cites a nonhuman study that found Zika in vaginal fluid of nonpregnant females can live up to seven days after exposure.

The CDC recommends that all pregnant women who have a sex partner who has traveled to or resides in an area with Zika use barrier methods every time they have sex or they should not have sex during the pregnancy.

Although no cases of woman-to-woman Zika transmission have been reported, these recommendations now also apply to female sex partners of pregnant women.

On Thursday, scientists published a new study suggesting that the Zika epidemic will have run its course in Latin America within three years, but only because so many people are being infected that the population will become immune to it.

Currently, it’s estimated that millions of people in South America are infected with the disease, which can cause the birth defect microcephaly. In the U.S., there are over 1,000 people infected, a figure that includes 320 pregnant women. On Wednesday, the first in Texas with Zika-related microcephaly was born. Thursday, Congress failed to appropriate the $1.9 billion in funding to fight the disease the White House requested in February.

There is no specific medication available to treat the Zika virus and there is currently no vaccine. “The best approach is to avoid mosquito bites in affected areas,” Dr. Denise Jamieson, a medical officer with the CDC told PEOPLE.

“Everybody should protect themselves against mosquitoes,” she continues. “Wear long sleeved clothing, use insect repellant which is safe during pregnancy, and in general avoiding mosquito bites.”

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