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Health officials confirm spread of Zika virus through sexual contact in Texas, first in US

This may be the very first case of many similar ones to follow in the next months. The bottom line is that US is not immune.

Fox News Health reporting: Dallas County health officials confirmed the occurrence of the sexual intercourse and subsequent transmission of the Zika virus between the unidentified patient and an infected individual who had returned from Venezuela and fallen ill with all symptoms of the infection. Most recent lab tests by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that the non-traveling patient was indeed infected with the virus.

“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,” Zachary Thomson, director of DCHHS, said in an issued statement. “Next to abstinence, condoms are the best prevention method against any sexually transmitted infections.”

Zika virus, which is believed to be responsible for children being born with physical defects through most of South America, is primarily spread by mosquitos, but ever since it was discovered, investigators started exploring the possibility of sexual transmission. There was a report of a Colorado researcher who picked up the virus in Africa and apparently spread it to his wife back home in 2008, and it was found in one man's semen in Tahiti.

Even though there are currently no reports of the virus being locally transmitted by mosquitoes in Dallas County, health officials stated that it could happen eventually.

The CDC decided to issue a publically distributed guide that will focus on prevention of the sexual transmission of Zika virus. CDC also recommended all pregnant women not to plan or to delay or cancel their trips to more than 20 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, including Venezuela, plagued by Zika outbreaks.

The biggest catalyst and source of spreading of this recent infestation is called Aedes aegypti — a species of mosquito that spreads other tropical diseases, including chikungunya and dengue fever. It is found in the southern United States, though no mosquito-borne transmission has been reported in the continental United States to date. There have been about 30 cases in the U.S. in the last year, all travelers who brought it into the country.

The World Health Organization declared a rapidly spreading Zika virus a global emergency, saying it is an "extraordinary event" that poses a threat to the rest of the world. The declaration was made after an emergency meeting of independent experts, who assembled after a rampant increase of babies being born with brain defects and abnormally small heads in Brazil. By that time Zika was already registered in that area since last year.

On a more positive note, WHO officials said that it will take up to nine months for the scientists to prove or disprove any connection between the virus and babies born with abnormally small heads. Meanwhile, the CDC confirmed that in the recent Texas case, there's no risk to a developing fetus.

Zika was first identified in 1947 in Uganda. It wasn't believed to cause any serious effects until last year; about 80 percent of infected people never experience symptoms.

 The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting several days to a week. Symptoms usually start two days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

EXPERT OPINION

Joshua Tartakovsky

While it is true the Carribean and Latin America have been largely afflicted by the outbreak as the article mentioned, with the Dominican Republic being one obvious example, Cuba has had zero cases of Zika so far, and its tight medical scrutiny of new arrivals at the airport as well as tight medical control, means that Cuba remains safe for travel while cases of Zika have already been reported in the mighty US.  Indeed, that Cuba has remained isolated from the outbreak is not merely miraculous but is due to the high level of medical control in the country.  It has managed to isolate itself from the storm waging around it and life is very peaceful and calm in the country with no panic on the issue with tourism coming in at even larger numbers than usual.  In any case, in Cuba people are having sex as usual, while I’m not sure the case is the same in the US.

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Barbara H. Peterson

Babies born with abnormally small heads have what is called Microcephaly. It can result from any early insult to the brain such as a highly toxic pesticide, severe malnutrition of the mother, injection of a toxic substance, a chronic high fever, a physical blow, etc. 

According to PubMed, "Annually, approximately 25,000 infants in the United States will be diagnosed with Microcephaly." That was published in 2009. 

Now the question becomes will the Zika virus be held responsible for Microcephaly also, or is this just the latest "pandemic" scare tactic to encourage us to rush to the nearest vaccination center and get the jab?

Another issue that should be addressed is if this outbreak of what appears to be a more intense strain could possibly have resulted from the release of genetically engineered mosquitoes in the area. 

From the article: 

“Zika was first identified in 1947 in Uganda. It wasn't believed to cause any serious effects until last year; about 80 percent of infected people never experience symptoms.” 

According to the article, “Oxitec first unveiled its large-scale, genetically-modified mosquito farm in Brazil in July 2012.” This is the same species of mosquito, Aedes aegypti, that carries the Zika virus.  

The timing is right. Time will tell.

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