Until now, there was only a presumption by scientists that the Zika virus could be passed on via sexual contact, but officials now report the first case has occurred in Texas. Dr. Sergio Cortes, a Brazilian medical expert, consistently reports updates about the Zika virus on his blog. According to Dr. Cortes, no one has been concerned about sexual transmission, instead focusing on the links between the virus and microcephaly. However, it’s been reported that the virus has been detected in semen, questioning precautionary measures.
Until a few months ago, scientists classified the Zika virus as largely harmless. Many infected individuals do not realize that they carry the virus since less than 20 percent show any of the flu-like symptoms. Conjunctivitis, headache, and low-grade fever do not typically stir-up concern, but since the outbreak, there are many more reasons to pay attention to Zika. For years, there was also speculation that the virus could pass from person to person, and the WHO confirmed that the pathogen can be transmitted through blood.
Zika Virus Symptoms
Symptoms usually occur three to seven days after an infection by a mosquito bite, and they typically disappear after two to three days. “The disappearing act is why the majority of infections go unnoticed,” says Dr. Sergio Cortes. The explosion of the Zika virus has resulted in the World Health Organization declaring an international health emergency.
The Aedes mosquito or Tiger mosquito is mainly the culprit that transmits this tropical disease, however scientists say there is a very large number of mosquitoes capable of transmitting the virus. The real problem is, there are no special precautions or extensive measures to take to protect individuals from mosquito bites. “Long sleeves, dark clothing, and repellent spray is the typical defense,” says Dr. Cortes. The Zika virus can also hamper blood donations, necessitating enhanced screenings.
This virus is also associated with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological disease that can cause paralysis, and microcephaly (a reduction in fetal head circumference). The virus can cause serious complications in pregnancies. When the virus is contracted in the first or second trimester of pregnancy, it can result in fetal malformations, therefore, Dr. Cortes suggest pregnant women avoid high-risk areas.