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Zika Virus Update: WHO Advises Travelers To Practice Safe Sex

Apr 13, 2016 04:00 AM EDT
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"Practice safe sex," said the World Health Organization (WHO) in a recently released travel and health advisory. The advisory was released to educate authorities, medical practitioners and travelers on safety measures to prevent the spread of Zika virus.

On WHO's health and travel advisory, they specifically ordered local authorities to disseminate the following information:

  • Provide up-to-date advice to travelers on how to reduce the risk of becoming infected, including preventing mosquito bites and practicing safer sex.
  • Advise travelers from areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission to practice safer sex and not to donate blood for at least one month after their return to reduce the potential risk of onwards transmission.

With more diseases being linked to the Zika virus such as microcephaly, Guillain-Barré syndrome and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), WHO is prompted to launch more preventive measures to alleviate the spread of the Zika virus .

Of course, pregnant women, who are considered more prone to Zika virus infection, are also mentioned in the recent travel and health advisory.

WHO said, "Advise pregnant women whose sexual partners live in or travel to areas with ongoing or recent Zika virus transmission to ensure safe sexual practices or abstain from sex for the duration of their pregnancy."

This goes to show that the Zika virus has a high probability of being transmitted through intercourse. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that traces of Zika virus were found in saliva and urine, making the transmission through sex possible. That's why earlier this year, CDC also issued safe-sex guidelines targeting travelers, especially men.

"Men who live in or travel to areas of active Zika infections and who have a pregnant sexual partner should use latex condoms correctly, or refrain from sex until the pregnancy has come to term," said the Director of CDC, Dr. Tom Frieden in an interview with CNN.

However, everything we know about the Zika virus is rapidly changing over time. CDC said that although it is proven that the Zika virus can be transmitted through bodily fluids, it doesn't necessarily prove that it is 100 percent transmittable that way.

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