First Case of Female Spreading Zika to Man via Unprotected Sex

Zika and sex
Science & Medicine

Scientists studying the Zika virus have been aware that an infected man can spread the Zika virus to a female through unprotected sex. But what we didn’t know for sure, until now, is that a female can actually spread the virus to male partners. This is what happened recent when a female in her 20s spread the Zika virus to her male partner through a sexual encounter.

The New York City woman, who will remain unidentified, recently returned home from a trip to a country where Zika is rife. On the day she returned home, she had sex with her partner without a condom, and both parties tested positive for the Zika virus. Her partner had not traveled outside of the US recently, nor had he recently been bitten by a mosquito (to his knowledge). This means that sex with his infected partner is the only way he could have come into contact with the virus.

Both partners have recovered from their bout with Zika, but experts say although this has not happened previously, they are not particularly surprised. Most viruses or bacteria that spread through sexual contact do so between both partners of either sex, so it would make sense that Zika would do the same. As the woman began menstruating about a day after their sexual encounter, experts think she either spread the virus through preliminary blood discharge or through vaginal fluid.

The Centers for Disease Control report that about 14 people in the United States have contracted Zika through sex with an infected partner. The rest of the approximately 1300 US citizens infected with Zika have caught the disease through travelling to a country where Zika is present and being bitten by a mosquito.

With this new knowledge, the Centers for Disease Control will now update their guidelines for having sex with a partner who has recently traveled to a country where Zika is present.

In the past, male partners who had recently visited these countries were asked to abstain from sex with their partner or use protection for several weeks after their return. This has been particularly important if the partner is pregnant or plans to become pregnant, as Zika can cause devastating birth defects in children born of mothers with the virus.

Now, the recommendations will be similar for females who have traveled to Zika-infected countries.



Associated Press