(HealthDay News) — US health officials on Monday updated their Zika virus guidelines, saying that pregnant women could contract Zika from a sex partner of either gender.
The new update follows news last week of the first recorded female-to-male transmission of the virus during sex. While mosquitoes are by far the most common form of transmission, cases of sexual transmission can occur, either male-to-female, female-to-male, or female-to-female. For that reason, experts at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the new guidelines “include the possibility of sexual transmission from an infected woman.”
“CDC recommends that all pregnant women with sex partners (male or female), who live in or traveled to an area with Zika, use condoms during sex or abstain from sex for the remainder of their pregnancy,” the agency said. “Sex includes vaginal, anal, and oral sex, and may also include the sharing of sex toys,” the CDC clarified. These precautions now include either straight or lesbian couples where one partner could pass the virus on to her pregnant partner.
Any pregnant woman who suspects that she may have been exposed to Zika — either through a mosquito bite or sexual contact with an infected person — should also be tested for the virus, the agency stressed. The CDC also pointed out that “new information has indicated that some infected pregnant women can have evidence of Zika virus in their blood for longer than the previously recommended 7-day window.” Because of that new data, the agency now recommends that the time frame for blood testing for Zika be lengthened to 14 days.
1. CDC Issues Updated Zika Recommendations: Interim Guidance for healthcare providers caring for pregnant women with possible exposure to Zika virus; Interim Guidance for the prevention of sexually transmitted Zika virus. CDC, July 25, 2016 [press release].