US health officials are investigating 14 cases of Zika infections which may have been spread through sex. The WHO, meanwhile, has lauded Brazil’s efforts in stopping the spread of the virus ahead of the Summer Olympics.
The CDC stressed that there was no evidence that women can spread the virus to their sex partners, but said more research was needed. There have, however, been two reported cases where Zika was sexually transmitted, including a recent one in the US state of Texas, and at least two other reports where the Zika virus was found in semen.
The current advice from the CDC to men who have recently been to an area affected by the Zika virus is to use a condom when having sex with a pregnant woman or to abstain. The CDC has also recommended that pregnant women postpone trips to more than 30 destinations currently tackling the virus.
‘Very good plan’ to tackle Zika
Following a meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Tuesday, World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Margaret Chan said the Brazilian government is doing all it can to fight the spread of the mosquito-borne virus.
“I want to reassure you that the government is working very closely with the international Olympic movement, with the local organizing committee, supported by the WHO, to make sure we have a very good work plan to target the mosquito, and to make sure that people who will come here either as visitors or athletes will get the maximum protection they need,” Chan said.
“I am confident the government can do it,” Chan told reporters.
Many scientists believe that a recent spike in microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads, could be linked to the Zika virus.
Brazil’s Health Ministry said Tuesday that the number of confirmed and suspected cases of microcephaly had risen to 4,690 from 4,443 a week earlier. Of these, the number of confirmed cases had climbed to 583 from 508.
The Zika virus is largely spread by the same kind of mosquito that transmits other tropical diseases, including dengue and chikungunya. Although there is no definitive proof that the virus is causing the birth defects, WHO has declared Zika a global emergency.
Some 1.5 million people have been infected with the Zika virus in Brazil since early 2015, but only three have died. There is currently no cure or vaccine for Zika, and the WHO has estimated that development of a immunization might take 18 months.