Texas county reports sexual transmission of Zika virus

Earlier Tuesday, CDC Director Tom Frieden told CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta: “There have been isolated cases of spread through blood transfusion or sexual contact and that’s not very surprising. The virus is in the blood for about a week. How long it would remain in the semen is something that needs to be studied and we’re working on that now.”

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Frieden added that studies on sexual transmission are not easy studies to do, but the CDC is continuing to explore that avenue of transmission. “What we know is the vast majority of spread is going to be from mosquitoes,” Frieden added. “The bottom line is mosquitoes are the real culprit here.”

The CDC said it will provide more guidance as more information on sexual transmission is learned, but in the meantime, “Sexual partners can protect each other by using condoms to prevent spreading sexually transmitted infections. People who have Zika virus infection can protect others by preventing additional mosquito bites.”

History of sexual transmission

Map: Tracking Zika virus

Before this case, there have been only two documented cases linking Zika to sex. During the 2013 Zika outbreak in French Polynesia, semen and urine samples from a 44-year-old Tahitian man tested positive for Zika even when blood samples did not. Five years before that, in 2008, a Colorado microbiologist named Brian Foy contracted Zika after travel to Senegal; his wife came down with the disease a few days later even though she had not left northern Colorado and was not exposed to any mosquitoes carrying the virus.

READ MORE: Five things you need to know about Zika

In addition, the CDC said there have been documented cases of virus transmission during labor, blood transfusion and laboratory exposure. While Zika has been found in breast milk, it’s not yet confirmed it can be passed to a baby through nursing.

An emergency of international concern

Zika is prompting worldwide concern because of an alarming connection to a neurological birth disorder and the rapid spread of the virus across the globe.

Zika virus outbreakA health worker fumigates an area in Caracas, Venezuela, to combat the Aedes aegypti mosquito on Tuesday, February 2. The mosquito carries the lt;a href=quot;http://www.cnn.com/specials/health/zikaquot; target=quot;_blankquot;gt;Zika virus,lt;/agt; which has suspected links to birth defects in newborn children. The World Health Organization expects the Zika outbreak to spread to lt;a href=quot;http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/25/health/who-zika-virus-americas/index.htmlquot; target=quot;_blankquot;gt;almost every country in the Americas.lt;/agt;A lab worker exposes his arm to Aedes aegypti mosquitoes during testing at the Roosevelt Hospital in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on Monday, February 1.Tainara Lourenco sits inside her home in Recife, Brazil, on Friday, January 29.  Lourenco, five months pregnant, lives at the epicenter of Brazils Zika outbreak. The Zika virus has been linked to microcephaly, a neurological disorder that results in newborns with small heads and abnormal brain development.Dr. Angela Rocha shows brain scans of a baby born with microcephaly at the Oswaldo Cruz Hospital in Recife on Thursday, January 28.Alice Vitoria Gomes Bezerra, a 3-month-old baby with microcephaly, is placed in her crib by her father Wednesday, January 27, in Recife.A health ministry employee fumigates a home in Soyapango, El Salvador, on January 27.A lab technician at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation Institute stores Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to be used in research in Recife on January 27.A patient suffering from Guillain-Barre syndrome recovers at a hospital in San Salvador, El Salvador, on January 27. Researchers are looking into a possible link between Zika and Guillain-Barre, a rare disorder that causes the bodys immune system to attack its nerves.lt;a href=quot;http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/27/health/the-children-of-zika/index.htmlquot; target=quot;_blankquot;gt;Luiz Felipelt;/agt; lives in Recife and is one of more than 4,000 babies in Brazil born with microcephaly since October. The drought-stricken impoverished state of Pernambuco has been the hardest-hit, registering 33% of recent cases.A health worker sprays insecticide under the bleachers of Rio de Janeiros Sambadrome on Tuesday, January 26.A Brazilian soldier inspects a home in Recife on Monday, January 25, while canvassing the neighborhood and attempting to eradicate the larvae of mosquitoes linked to the virus.David Henrique Ferreira, a 5-month-old who has microcephaly, is watched by his brother in Recife on January 25.The larvae of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are photographed in a lab in Cali, Colombia, on January 25. Scientists are studying the mosquitoes to control their reproduction and resistance to insecticides.Angelica Prato, a pregnant woman infected by the Zika virus, receives medical attention at a hospital in Cucuta, Colombia, on January 25.A woman walks through fumes as health ministry employees fumigate an area in Soyapango on Thursday, January 21.Brazilian soldiers apply insect repellent as they prepare for a cleanup operation in Sao Paulo on Wednesday, January 20.A researcher at the University of Sao Paulo holds a container with female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes on Monday, January 18.A researcher at the University of Sao Paulo holds a container with female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes on Monday, January 18.A graveyard in Lima, Peru, is fumigated on Friday, January 15.Aedes aegypti mosquitos are seen at the University of Sao Paulo on January 8. Researchers from the Pasteur Institute in Dakar, Senegal, came to Brazil to train local researchers to combat the Zika virus epidemic.08 zika 020303 zika 0203 RESTRICTED04 zika 020305 zika 020301 zika virus 012802 zika virus 012803 zika virus 012804 zika virus 012807 zika virus 012801 zika virus03 zika virus02 zika virus12 zika virus04 zika virus13 zika virus05 zika virus06 zika virus14 zika virus11 zika virus

The Zika virus, transmitted by the aggressive Aedes aegypti mosquito, has now spread to at least 24 countries. The WHO estimates 3 million to 4 million people across the Americas will be infected with the virus in the next year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning pregnant women against travel to those areas; health officials in several of those countries are telling female citizens to avoid becoming pregnant, in some cases for up to two years.

The children of Zika: Babies born with disorder linked to virus

The virus is linked to an alarming spike in babies born with abnormally small heads — a condition called microcephaly — in Brazil and French Polynesia.

Reports of a serious neurological condition, called Guillain-Barre Syndrome, that can lead to paralysis, have also risen in areas where the virus has been reported. Health officials have specifically seen clusters of this in El Salvador, Brazil and French Polynesia, according to WHO’s Dr. Bruce Aylward.

READ MORE: Zika tests Catholic position on birth control

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