Minister for Health and Social Development, Hon. Ronnie Skelton zoomed on the fact that the Zika Virus is a sexually transmitted disease and urged persons who might be infected to wear a condom.
“To prevent Zika infection, protect yourself from mosquito bites, and if you are already infected please avoid being bitten and protect your sexual partner by using condoms or other barriers,” Hon. Skelton announced.
The Health Minister stressed the fact that although Zika is transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito similar to Chikungunya and Dengue, it is different because it is not only transmitted via mosquitoes: “Unlike Chikungunya and Dengue, Zika can be transmitted through sexual contact, and from a pregnant woman to her unborn child,” Hon. Skelton said.
Two major health authorities namely the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that the ZIKA Virus is now essentially a sexually transmitted Disease (STD).
In early July the CDC announced that while there are still some unknown factors about the ZIKA virus, it is proven that men can transmit the disease to their sexual partners: “A man with Zika virus can pass it to his female or male partners during unprotected intercourse. It was noted that Zika can be passed from a man with symptoms to his sex partners before his symptoms start, while he has symptoms, and after his symptoms end,” the CDC announced.
The US Health authority also mentioned that men with Zika who never develop symptoms may also be able to pass the virus to their sex partners, because the virus is capable of staying in semen. “Zika virus can stay in semen longer than in blood, but we don’t know exactly how long Zika stays in semen or how long it can be passed to sex partners,” the CDC stated.
Based on a June World Health Organization report officials have essentially classified the virus as a double threat because of its dual transmission route: “The primary transmission route of Zika virus is via the Aedes mosquito. However, mounting evidence has shown that sexual transmission of Zika virus is possible and more common than previously assumed,” WHO announced.
The Organization stated that the concerns about the sexual transmission of Zika was first suggested in 2011 in a study that described the case of a male patient infected with Zika virus in south-eastern Senegal in 2008, who infected his wife via sexual intercourse upon return to the United States of America.
Since then and up to 19 May 2016, sexual transmission of Zika virus has been reported in ten countries (United States of America three cases, France four cases, Italy five cases, Argentina seven cases, Chile eight cases, Peru nine cases, Portugal ten cases, New Zealand 11 cases, Canada 12 cases and Germany 13 cases).