Following the US National IHR Focal Point’s notification of a probable case of sexual transmission of Zika virus from an individual who is a resident of Dallas, Texas, travelled to Venezuela for one week between late December and the beginning of January, the World Health Organization has released an advice on symptoms and precautions.
The Dallas resident developed symptoms of Zika virus infection, including fever, rash, conjunctivitis, and malaise after his return from venezuela and he had sex with a person who has also developed symptoms consistent with Zika virus, said the WHO.
Lab tests confirmed Zika virus infection in both of them and the WHO risk assessment also said, “This is not the first Zika virus case acquired through sexual transmission. Sporadic cases of infection acquired via this route have already been reported in the literature. The risk of disease spread through sexual activity is very limited. This potential case of sexual transmission does not change the overall risk assessment since the virus is primarily transmitted to people through mosquito bites.”
However, WHO underscored the point that the risk of a global spread of Zika virus to areas where the competent vectors, the Aedes mosquitoes, are present is significant, given the wide geographical distribution of these mosquitoes in various regions of the world.
Advising people to first mitigate the mosquito vector breeding sites in human habitation by reducing the number of natural and artificial water-filled habitats that support mosquito larvae, reducing the adult mosquito populations around at-risk communities and by using barriers such as insect screens, closed doors and windows, long clothing and repellents.
Since the Aedes mosquitoes (the primary vector for transmission) are day-biting mosquitoes, WHO has recommended that those who sleep during the daytime, particularly young children, the sick or elderly, should rest under mosquito nets (bed nets), treated with or without insecticide to provide protection.
Basic precautions for protection from mosquito bites should be taken by people traveling to high risk areas, especially pregnant women, said WHO. These include use of repellents, wearing light colored, long sleeved shirts and pants and ensuring that rooms are fitted with screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering.