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14 Cases Of Zika Transmitted Through Sexually

Posted at 6:27 PM, Feb 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-24 19:27:51-05

Health officials have confirmed that 14 Zika cases in the United States have been spread through sexual contact. 

Dr. Isaac Thomsen is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He focuses on pediatric infectious diseases and he said females shouldn't be traveling to Central and South America until doctors have more information on Zika.

Thomsen said,  "We're seeing more and more cases that appear to be linked to sexual contact from a man whose been in an area where Zika is circulating. So what the CDC came out with yesterday was guidelines so if a man has been to an area where Zika is circulating, they need to abstain from sexual contact or use condoms to prevent the spread of the virus."

The guidelines he's talking about can be found here: http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/s0223-zika-guidance.html

Thomsen said, "We're seeing them really all over the country and really could be anywhere because they are imported from travelers so they aren't spreading locally by mosquitoes like they are in Central and South America."

Thomsen said doctors aren't sure how long the Zika Virus can live in the human body.

Thomsen said, "There's already evidence that at least two months in that the virus is still found in certain body fluids and can be circulating. The longer this goes, we're seeing that this could be longer and longer. So all we can say right now is beyond the order of several months and certainly better safe than sorry."

That's why he's urging women to err on the side of caution.

Thomsen said, "The one thing we can take away from this is we don't know yet how long someone could be infectious even through sexual contact once they've been in an area. That's one of the tricky things right now is we don't know how long to tell people to avoid sexual contact and make sure they use condoms because we don't know how long they might be infectious."

Thomsen works in a lab where they test immune response to viruses and bacteria. He said some people who contract Zika, don't know they have it. 

Thomsen said, "People need to be in open communication, if they've had a sexual partner, especially a male sexual partner that's been in an area where this is circulating. This is something to be taken seriously. Especially if it's a pregnant woman or a woman who might be pregnant. I think otherwise it's just up to that couple to decide, do they want to abstain from sexual contact or use condoms etc. Now that we know that this does appear to be spread sexually."