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First case of Zika virus transmitted sexually confirmed in Canada

06:31 PM April 26, 2016

A positive case of the dreaded Zika virus was reported in Ontario, Canada, but instead of disease-carrying mosquitoes, the cause was traced to sexual activity, according to provincial and federal health officers.

Canada’s Public Health Agency (PHA) in Winnipeg confirmed the source of infection through a series of multiple tests on Tuesday.

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“The individual from Ontario is suspected to have contracted the virus from a sexual partner who was diagnosed with Zika virus after travelling to an affected country,” said the PHA and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in a joint statement.

Citing reports from Canada-based news channel CBS news, bites from infected Aedes species mosquitos are still the main reason why the virus spreads. However, an alarming rate of contraction through sexual transmission has been reported in several countries as well.

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Meanwhile, officials of the World Health Organization (WHO) released several guidelines for the public, concerning potential sexually-related Zika virus outbreaks.

Males, especially those travelling to countries with on-going outbreaks, were advised the following:

  • Those with a pregnant partner should use condoms for the duration of the pregnancy because Zika virus can persist for an extended period of time in the semen of infected males.
  • Wait six months before trying to conceive, and use a condom.
  • Consider using condoms with any partner for six months.

Women looking to conceive, on the other hand, were recommended to plan their pregnancy at least two months before trying to conceive to ensure that any possible Zika virus infection has cleared the body.

WHO added that if travel cannot be avoided or postponed, strict mosquito bite prevention measures should be taken given the association between Zika virus infection and increased risk of serious health effects on a fetus.

The warnings came after previous studies relate Zika virus to birth defects in new born babies, including shrunken heads and brain damage.

Despite the recent discovery, Canada still has no confirmed cases of locally acquired Zika virus through mosquitoes, and the overall risk of catching the disease in the country remains low.

As of writing, the unnamed Canadian who tested positive to Zika remains under close monitoring.  Khristian Ibarrola, INQUIRER.net

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