HealthDay News — A New York City woman who became infected with the Zika virus on a trip outside the United States passed the infection to her boyfriend during sex, according to research published in the early-release issue of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

This is the first reported case of female-to-male sexual transmission of Zika – before this case, sexual transmission had only been reported as spreading from men to women.

The woman, in her 20s, said she had traveled to a Zika-endemic area and developed headache, cramps, fever, fatigue, rash, and other symptoms during the day she flew home and after returning to New York City. She had unprotected vaginal sex with her partner on the day of her return, and about a week later her male partner came down with symptoms of what also turned out to be Zika infection. Both individuals recovered from Zika illness. The New York City woman was not pregnant, city health officials said.

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The case documented in New York City isn’t surprising, Marc Siegel, MD, a professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, told HealthDay. “Anytime you see male-to-female transmission, there’s always the risk of female-to-male transmission – we found that with HIV,” said Siegel, who was not part of the research. He believes that the New York City case is probably not the first female-to-male transmission – just the first such case reported. However, “if our concern about Zika is the risk of birth defects, female-to-male transmission isn’t going to increase that risk, unless the male has multiple partners,” Siegel added.

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  1. Davidson A, Slavinski S, Komoto K, et al. Suspected Female-to-Male Sexual Transmission of Zika Virus – New York City, 2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 15 July 2016; doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6528e2