DALLAS, TX -- Harris County Health officials making changes after a new case of the Zika virus in Dallas County was found to be transmitted by sexual intercourse.
According the Dallas County Health Department, the patient was infected with the virus after having sexual contact with an ill individual who returned from a country where Zika virus is present. No other information was released about the transmission.
"Now that we know Zika virus can be transmitted through sex, this increases our awareness campaign in educating the public about protecting themselves and others," said Zachary Thompson, DCHHS director. "Next to abstinence, condoms are the best prevention method against any sexually-transmitted infections."
"I thought that was a really big gap in the warning, so that's why I talked about it myself," said Dr. Noreen Khan-Mayberry, a toxicologist who predicted the Zika virus would be eventually spread via sex. "The virus become systemic. It gets in to the blood stream and it gets into all bodily fluids so semen is a bodily fluid."
The CDC reported two other cases of Zika spread through sexual contact. One was in 2008 and the other was in 2013.
The Harris County Health department will now ask all new patients who test positive for Zika to abstain from having unprotected sex.
"For some period of time, we are going to ask them to use precautions, yes," said Dr. Dr Umair Shah with the Harris County Health Department.
The most common symptoms of Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting several days to a week.
- About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill (i.e., develop Zika).
- The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week.
- The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.
- Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for a few days but it can be found longer in some people.
- Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.
- Deaths are rare.
- The symptoms of Zika are similar to those of dengue and chikungunya, diseases spread through the same mosquitoes that transmit Zika.
- See your healthcare provider if you develop the symptoms described above and have visited an area where Zika is found.
- If you have recently traveled, tell your healthcare provider when and where you traveled.
- Your healthcare provider may order blood tests to look for Zika or other similar viruses like dengue or chikungunya.
- No vaccine or medications are available to prevent or treat Zika infections.
Treat the symptoms:
- Drink fluids to prevent dehydration
- Take medicines, such as acetaminophen or paracetamol, to relieve fever and pain
- Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen and naproxen. Aspirin and NSAIDs should be avoided until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of hemorrhage (bleeding). If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.
- If you have Zika, avoid mosquito bites for the first week of your illness.