New CDC Zika guidance highlights that an infected woman – not just a male – can transmit the virus

By Lindsay Kimble
July 26, 2016 03:25 PM
Universal History Archive/UIG/Getty

New CDC guidelines addressing doctors’ care of patients who have Zika or at-risk for the virus reveals that it can be transferred through any type of sex.

Federal health officials highlighted that in addition to vaginal sex, anal sex, oral sex and shared use of sex toys by partners of either gender can also spread the mosquito-borne disease.

The guidance also highlights that an infected woman – not just a male – can transmit the virus.

Further, the CDC’s recommendations on patient counseling related to the Zika virus include that at-risk pregnant women now have up to a two-week window to undergo a blood test for the disease after beginning to show symptoms. Initially, the suggested timeframe was just seven days. The CDC says that any pregnant woman who suspects they may have been exposed to Zika be tested.

Zika has been linked to a range of birth defects, including microcephaly, and brain and eye abnormalities. As of July 14, the CDC said that 400 pregnant women in the U.S. have shown evidence of the virus, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said. Last month, three babies were born in the country with the virus, and three more died before birth because of the defects.

The CDC urges doctors to stress that male or female partners in an area with Zika reduce their risk of sexual transmission by using condoms, and says that they should abstain from unprotected sex throughout a pregnancy.

In early July, an elderly Utah man became the first confirmed person to die from the virus, after being hospitalized for a high fever, rash and joint pain.

The most common symptoms of Zika include conjunctivitis (red eyes), rash, fever, joint pain and headache. There are currently no vaccines to treat or prevent the virus.

Much concern has been placed around the Summer Olympics in Rio – which has been hit hard by the virus – with many U.S. athletes backing out.

Several athletes, coaches and members of the Olympic committee staff are actually serving as subjects in a study of the virus.

The study aims to improve understanding of the virus by identifying risk factors, evaluating how long the virus remains in bodily fluids and studying the reproductive outcomes of infected patients.

In order to avoid being bitten this summer, here is a list of the best bug sprays for warding off the zika-spreading Aedes mosquitos, according to Consumer Reports:

• Sawyer Picaridin
• Ben’s 30% Deet Tick & Insect Wilderness Formula
• Repel Lemon Eucalyptus

Each of the top picks contains a different key ingredient: picaridin, DEET and a derivative of eucalyptus. DEET, an active ingredient in many insect repellants, has been used since the 1940s. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DEET is safe for pregnant women and young children.

Picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus, on the other hand, should not be used on children under three years old. Insect repellant of any kind should not be used on babies under 2 months of age; instead small babies should be protected by a mosquito net placed around their infant seat or carrier.

And here’s the best way to use mosquito repellants, per the CDC:

• Spray or rub repellant only onto skin not covered by clothes (it’s not necessary to apply repellant under your clothing)
• Use just enough insect repellant to cover your skin; heavy application does not increase effectiveness
• Never use insect repellants on cuts, wounds or irritated skin
• Do not spray insect repellant directly onto your face – spray it into your hands and then carefully apply to your face
• Apply insect repellant after applying sunscreen
• After returning indoors, wash insect repellant off of your skin with soap and water or take a bath.

Protecting your home from mosquito populations is also important. Remember to get rid of standing water. Birdbaths, flowerpots and clogged gutters all make for excellent mosquito breeding grounds.

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