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Zika virus sexually transmitted in first U.S. case

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'Education and awareness is crucial in preventing Zika virus.'

The first known case of the Zika virus being locally acquired in the United States has occured in Dallas, Texas.


2/3/2016 (8 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Zika, virus, CDC, DCHHS, babies, pregnant

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Dallas County health officials confirmed a recent traveler to Venezuela infected their partner after a sexual encounter.

CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden told NBC News, "We've confirmed that someone who didn't travel has had Zika in the U.S. And all of the information provided to us by Dallas makes it clear that it is likely sexual transmission."

Though Dallas authorities have yet to release details about the infected couple, they did say that neither is a pregnant woman.

Despite the virus' usual transmission via mosquitoes, the CDC's announcement continues to spread awareness. The travel advisory the CDC issued last month warned pregnant women and women who planned on getting pregnant to delay traveling to affected countries, and several airlines offered refunds for plane tickets pregnant women purchased.

The concern with pregnant women becoming infected lies in how the virus affects their unborn children. Babies born to Zika-infected mothers are often born with smaller-than-average skulls, leading to brain damage. Some even contract the virus after birth.

In efforts to control the outbreak, the CDC warned that mosquito bites are the most popular means of contracting the virus, and that there have been signs it can be spread via blood transfusions and sexual contact.

In a press release dated January 27, Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) announced mosquito activity in Dallas County, and warned people to be aware of mosquitos year-round.

DCHHS director Zachary Thompson stated: "Dallas County residents may be traveling to countries where these viruses [Chikungunya, Dengue and Zika] are endemic and need to be aware of precautions to take while traveling. Additionally, if they become infected, they should be aware of what to do to help prevent spreading a virus here locally."

Dr. Christopher Perkins, DCHHS medical director and health authority added: "It is very important that travelers understand how they can protect themselves and others. Travelers should always use mosquito prevention while they are in countries where these viruses are found, and if they happen to acquire a mosquito-borne virus, they should avoid being bitten again."

The DCHHS recommends four D's "to reduce exposure to mosquitos at all times:"

  • DEET All Day, Every Day:  Whenever you're outside, use insect repellents that contain DEET or other EPA approved repellents and follow instructions.
  • Dress: Wear long, loose, and light-colored clothing outside.
  • Drain: Drain or treat all standing water in and around your home or workplace.
  • Dusk & Dawn: Limit outdoor activities during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

DCHHS also recommends staying in hotels that offer air conditioning or have screens to cover windows or doors. If lodging in an area that does not offer screens or air conditioning, they advise people to sleep beneath a mosquito bed net.

Now, with reports from Texas, it is also advised to seek medical attention before engaging in sexual activities with anyone who has traveled to Zika-infected countries.


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