14 new sexually transmitted Zika cases reported

- The CDC reported 14 possible new cases of sexually transmitted Zika virus in the U.S., and “several” of the patients were reported as pregnant. 

It also added three locations - Trinidad, Tobago and the Marshall Islands - to its list of travel notices in relation to the virus. For a full list of countries/regions on the the CDC's list, visit http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information.

These cases are in addition to a sexually transmitted case reported in early February in Texas. Although the primary mode of transmission of the virus is through the bite of an infected mosquito, the Texas case prompted the CDC to issue interim recommendations on February 5 to prevent sexual spread of the virus. 

In addition to those guidelines, the CDC issued a Health Advisory Notice, to underscore the importance of following those guidelines.

According to the CDC, two of the suspected new cases were confirmed in women whose only risk factor was sexual contact with a male partner who had recently traveled to an area with local Zika transmission and was experiencing symptoms of Zika. 

Four cases had preliminary test results, but were awaiting confirmation. The remaining eight cases were being investigated.

Travelers were men and reported symptoms within two weeks before their non-traveling female partners' symptoms began.

Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Health said 29 Zika cases were reported in the state - the newest case in Seminole County. None of these included pregnant women and all were travel related. 

The CDC was continuing to investigate the link between a serious birth defect, microcephaly, and Zika virus infections during pregnancy. 

The CDC’s February 5 interim guidance includes:

1. Recommendations for pregnant women and men with pregnant sex partners who live in or have traveled to Zika-affected areas:

a. Pregnant women and their male sex partners should discuss the male partner’s potential exposures and history of Zika-like illness with the pregnant woman’s health care provider (http://www.cdc.gov/zika/symptoms/). Providers should consult CDC’s guidelines for evaluation and testing of pregnant women.

b. Men with a pregnant sex partner who reside in or have traveled to an area of active Zika virus transmission and their pregnant sex partners should use condoms the right way every time during sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) or abstain from sexual activity for the duration of the pregnancy. Using latex condoms the right way every time reduces the risk of sexual transmission of many infections, including those caused by other viruses.

2. Recommendations for non-pregnant women, and men with non-pregnant sex partners who live in or have traveled to Zika-affected areas:

a. Couples in which a man resides in or has traveled to an area of active Zika virus transmission who are concerned about sexual transmission of Zika virus may consider using condoms the right way every time during sex or abstaining from sexual activity. 

b. Couples may consider several factors when making this complex and personal decision to use condoms or not have sex:

c. Zika virus illness is usually mild. An estimated 4 out of 5 people infected never have symptoms; when symptoms occur they may last from several days to one week.

d. The risk of Zika infection depends on how long and how much a person has been exposed to infected mosquitoes, and the steps taken to prevent mosquito bites while in an affected area.

e. The science is not clear on how long the risk should be avoided. Research is now underway to answer this question as soon as possible. If you are trying to get pregnant, you may consider testing in discussion with your health care provider.

3. These investigations are preliminary, and CDC will continue to update its guidance as more information becomes available.   

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