According to U.S. health officials, Zika virus can be spread sexually even when your partner has no symptoms or any signs of infection.
Unfortunately, a woman from Maryland who has not traveled to an active Zika area was diagnosed with the virus last June. Apparently, having condomless sex with a man who went to the Dominican Republic caused her to have the disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The virus is known to circulate in the Dominican Republic, but the man had no symptoms. The symptoms range from fever to pink eye or rashes, but the man only felt tired and thought traveling caused it.
The researchers confirmed the man had the virus through testing. The CDC researchers explained, “As more is learned about the incidence and duration of seminal shedding of Zika virus in infected men, recommendations to prevent sexual transmission of Zika virus will be updated if needed.”
Zika causes severe brain damage in babies from mothers exposed to the virus during pregnancy. Research links the rare autoimmune disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome to the virus.
There is only one other case of sexual transmission of Zika without any manifestation of symptoms known to the CDC. The researchers didn’t rule out a mosquito bite since both partners came from a Zika region outside the U.S. This new twist should encourage health centers to strengthen warnings to couples and families with individuals planning to travel where the virus is prevalent. At present, the virus circulates in South and Central American countries and the Caribbean. There are also parts of Florida experiencing local transmission. CDC advised couples with partners traveling to a Zika region to wait at least eight weeks before trying to start a family.
Men with the virus should wait at least six months before trying to have babies while women exposed to the virus should wait eight weeks before trying to conceive.
Couples not trying to have children should use reliable birth control and condoms to help prevent transmission of the virus. They also might consider abstaining from sex, the CDC says.