Sexual transmission of Zika 'more common than thought'

2016-03-09 14:35
(Luis Lobayo, AFP)

(Luis Lobayo, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Geneva – Sexual transmission of the Zika virus is more common than previously thought and there is increasing evidence that a spike in disturbing birth defects and neurological problems are caused by Zika, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

When the WHO declared the explosive outbreak in the Americas to be a global emergency last month, it said that the evidence that Zika, which is mostly spread by mosquito bites, was responsible was only circumstantial.

After a meeting of its emergency committee on Tuesday, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said "reports and investigations in several countries strongly suggest that sexual transmission of the virus is more common than previously assumed".

The US is investigating more than a dozen possible cases of Zika in people who may have been infected through sex.

Chan also said nine countries have now reported increasing cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare condition that can cause temporary paralysis and death.

She said that problems linked to Zika, including Guillain-Barre syndrome, are now being seen not just in women of child-bearing age, but children, teenagers and older adults.

Zika is also now spreading to new countries, WHO said. It noted local transmission has now been reported in 31 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean.

"All of this news is alarming," Chan said.

Despite the lack of definitive evidence proving that Zika causes birth defects and neurological problems, Chan said officials shouldn't wait for definitive scientific proof before making recommendations.

WHO's emergency committee called for "intensified" research into the relationship between new clusters of babies born with abnormally small heads and other neurological disorders.

It said particular attention should be given to studying the genetics of the different Zika virus strains and establishing studies to determine if there is a causal relationship.

So far, cases of babies born with small, deformed heads linked to Zika have only been confirmed in Brazil and French Polynesia, though officials say they expect reports from other countries once the virus has been circulating there long enough to affect pregnant women.

Colombia has reported several suspected cases of microcephaly.

WHO recommends pregnant women avoid travel to areas with ongoing Zika outbreaks and that if their partners travel to affected countries, they should practice safe sex or abstain from sex for the duration of their pregnancy.

Read more on:    who  |  switzerland  |  zika virus

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.