To prevent sexual transmission of the Zika virus, U.S. federal health officials are recommending that both pregnant women and their male sexual partners who live in or have traveled to an area with active spread of the Zika virus use condoms during sex or abstain from sexual activity for the duration of pregnancy.
The U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the new interim guidelines on Friday after the agency recently confirmed a case of sexually transmitted Zika in Texas.
For women who aren’t pregnant and men with sex partners who are not pregnant but who live in or have traveled to regions with Zika transmission, the agency says precautions can also be taken. “Couples in which a man resides in or has traveled to an area of active Zika virus transmission who are concerned about sexual transmission of Zika virus may consider using condoms consistently and correctly during sex or abstaining from sexual activity,” the CDC said in a statement. The agency notes that to date there have not been reports of sexually transmitted Zika from a woman to her sexual partners.
The CDC says couples who are considering using condoms or abstaining from sex out of precaution should consider a few factors, including the fact that the virus is usually mild and when symptoms occur they can last several days to about a week. In addition, the risk of infection “depends on how long and how much a person has been exposed to infected mosquitoes, and the steps taken to prevent mosquito bites while in an affected area.”
“The science is not clear on how long the risk should be avoided. Research is now underway to answer this question as soon as possible,” the CDC adds. “If you are trying to get pregnant, you may consider testing in discussion with your health care provider.”