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US advises abstinence, condom use to prevent Zika spread

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Washington: The US government on Friday urged men who recently travelled to areas where Zika virus runs rife and their pregnant sex partners to abstain from sexual activity or consistently and correctly use condoms during sex for the duration of the pregnancy.

The new interim guidelines, issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also said men who are concerned about sexual transmission of Zika virus to a non-pregnant partner might consider abstaining from sexual activity or using condoms consistently and correctly during sex, Xinhua reported.

The US agency also updated another interim guidance recommending pregnant women without symptoms of Zika virus disease can be offered testing two to 12 weeks after returning from areas with ongoing Zika virus spreading.

Earlier this week, the US state of Texas reported the country’s first locally transmitted case of Zika virus, in which the patient was infected after having sexual contact with an ill individual who returned from a country where Zika virus is present.

But the US CDC stressed that although sexual transmission is possible, mosquito bites remain the primary way that the Zika virus is transmitted.

“Because there currently is no vaccine or treatment for Zika virus, the best way to avoid Zika virus infection is to prevent mosquito bites,” it said in a statement.

Besides the Texas case, there are only two other scientific reports related to possible sexual transmission of Zika, the CDC said.

One involved a man spreading the virus to a woman and their sexual contact occurred a few days before the man’s symptom onset. In another case, Zika was found in semen at least two weeks and possibly up to 10 weeks after a man had Zika virus infection.

So far, there have been no reports of sexual transmission of Zika virus from infected women to their sex partners, the CDC added.

—IANS

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