Zika: US reports first sexually-transmitted case

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By Euronews  with Reuters, AFP, Dallas HHS.
Zika: US reports first sexually-transmitted case
  • Case reported in Dallas
  • Honduras put on state of alert
  • Mercosur health ministers to meet in Uruguay

Health officials in the United States are reporting the first known case of transmission of the Zika virus by sexual contact.

80% of those diagnosed do not show any symptoms. That is the challenge.

The authorities in Dallas say the virus has been diagnosed in someone who has had sex with an infected person returning from Venezuela.

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention say it as the first US Zika case in someone who has not travelled abroad.

Zachary Thompson is Director of Dallas County Health and Human Services:

“Now we are talking about sexually transmitting the Zika virus.”

“That is a concern because of people who travel to Latin American countries, who are engaged in unprotected sex, who can potentially bring back the virus and infect others.”

“I think the concern is that 80 percent of those individuals diagnosed do not show any symptoms. And that is the challenge. You are not showing any symptoms, therefore you run the risk of transmission.”

The Zika threat

Zika cases have been confirmed in 23 countries and territories across the Americas.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) fears it could infect as many as four million people on the continent.

Health ministers from the region are meeting in Uruguay on Wednesday to discuss the Zika threat as the continent heads into carnival season.

Zika had been thought to spread via the bites of mosquitoes of the Aedes genus.

Experts say sexual contact as a means of transmission would be an alarming development.

Dozens of cases have already been reported in Europe and North America in people returning from affected countries.

On Tuesday, WHO officials expressed concern that the virus could also spread to Africa and Asia.

Dallas case

Health officials in Dallas have confirmed how the virus was transmitted in this case.

It is thought the person was infected through sexual contact with someone who had travelled to Venezuela. The person themselves had not travelled to the country.

Texas state health officials were more cautious. “Case details are being evaluated but the possibility of sexual transmission from an infected person to a non-infected person is likely in this case.”

County authorities said there were no reports ofthe virus being transmitted by mosquitoes in Texas.

What they are saying

“I call for the solidarity and the voluntary work of all Hondurans, to join in this fight in order to preserve the health of our people. We must be in a preventive alert and work with conviction to that we can overcome these diseases.”Juan Orlando Hernandez, President of Honduras

“The only way to stop the Zika virus is to control the mosquitoes carring it or to prevent their contact with humans and also by measures to tackle poverty.”- Walter Cotte, Americas Director, IFRC.

“We have worked with local authorities to increase the number of inspections.”Mario Andrada, Rio-2016 spokesperson.

“The geographical spread of the mosquitoes that transmit the virus, the absence of a vaccine and conclusive testing and the lack of immunity of those living in newly-affected countries are fresh worries for us.”Margaret Chan, Director, WHO.

In her New Year message to Congress, Brazilian President Dilma Roussef has made the fight against Zika one of her priorities for 2016.