Sexual transmission of the Zika virus has been shown to be more common than previously believed. This comes from a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with the statement from the World Health Organization (WHO).
According to the BBC, in an emergency meeting last March 8, WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan said, “Reports and investigations in several countries strongly suggest that sexual transmission of the virus is more common than previously assumed,” calling this development “alarming.”
Currently, the U.S. CDC is investigating more than a dozen possible cases of Zika in people who may have been infected through sex.
The WHO is advising pregnant mothers to avoid travelling to areas with ongoing Zika outbreaks. More importantly, it is also advised to practice safe sex or abstinence, with anyone who may have had exposure to Zika virus.
“Women who are pregnant in affected countries or travel to these countries are understandably deeply worried,” Dr Chan said, as quoted by the same BBC report.
The U.N. health agency recommends that public health officials should be urgent in issuing guidance and recommendations for health conditions and issues related to Zika. Despite global efforts to do research, public health officials should not wait for and depend on this. Providing definitive scienitific evidence that demonstrates causality of the virus will surely take some time.
In addition, WHO’s emergency committee has called for “intensified” research into the relationship between new clusters of babies born with abnormally small heads and other neurological disorders. It says that the focus should be on studying the genetics of the different Zika virus strains and establishing studies to determine if there is a causal relationship.
The effects of Zika virus, such as temporary paralysis caused by Guillain-Barre syndrome is now being seen children, teenagers and older adults. It is reported that local transmission has now been observed across Latin America and the Caribbean.