Zika Spreads Through Sexual Contact
A non-traveler in Texas, Dallas, USA, ill with Zika virus due to human sexual contact has been reported by Dallas County Health and Human Services, which was further endorsed by Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This non-traveler was the wife of a person who travelled to Venezuela few days back.
Zika outbreak has since the last year, when it started from Brazil, plunged from Level-2 Alert (practiced enhanced precautions) to public health emergency of international concern (demanding decisiveness with its follow-up in regard to extraordinary measures) announced by WHO on Feb 1, 2016.
It was majorly believed and propagated by health departments that Zika virus is an infectious disease whose major mode of spread is a mosquito (Aedesaegypti: an African breed and Aedesalbopictus: an Asian aborigine) but the incident of Zika in Texas, which is a result of sexual intercourse with a traveler to the high risk area is sending waves of shudder to the public health personnel and the clinicians because if there are modes other than mosquito bite too like the recently developed situation, then it will be very hard to draw a line of control.
Zika Medical Treatment
WHO, with no definitive medical treatment available and no vaccine at hand, had been focusing on precautionary measures to halt the disease spread by measures varying from mosquito based surveillance to vector control and from popping up the travel alerts to blood testing of affected travelers coming back from affected areas.
The personal measures of staying away from the mosquito is cutting short because now ‘SELF-DEFERRAL’ is a new trend in town. Now, global health personnel have a new challenge to encounter: to restrict the spread of Zika through semen and urine. Recently, the blood donations have been put to a restriction for the travelers returning from travel alert areas till after 28 days of their return.
The point that was missed by health authorities is that, it is not unusual or the virgin time that the spread of Zika took place through human sexual contact.
- Before this case, Zika was once registered as a spread through sexual contact in the past; in 2008, a traveler to Senegal in times of Zika outbreak there affected his wife with Zika virus at Colorado on his return.
- While Zika was also linked to be found in human fluids; in 2013, a traveler to French Polynesia in Zika outbreak had his urine and semen samples confirmed with the Zika virus presence, despite the virus’s absence in the blood.
Zika does not kill people but it does seriously damage the developing fetus. This infectious disease can be a global threat like HIV and Ebola. In HIV the restrictive measures were easy to define and implement, by stopping the human sexual contact/blood transfusions and few more. But in case of Zika the line drawn for the capping it is almost impossible.
The spread of Zika is through multiple means involving a vector; the bite of mosquito, through travelling of human and goods, through blood transfusions and now through semen. Multiple modes of transmission may result in increased incidence of disease in America and spread to Europe and Australia, where cases have already been reported. While HIV has no vector so its spread can be curtailed many folds as compare to the perils of Zika’s multiple mode of spread.
The Questions That Need To Be Addressed
- If semen is affecting a female partner, can a Zika affected female be a donor of this virus to the male sexual partner? In case of HIV, the prevalence of female HIV patients responsible for sexual transmission of disease to the male partner is comparatively less. But there is no definitive answer in case of Zika.
- Can other body fluids like saliva, sweat, urine be a cause of Zika virus transmission? HIV spread has never been reported by these means. There is no information on Zika as yet.
These infectious diseases and their outbreaks are exposing our vulnerabilities and are calling for effective global health governance. The Emergency Committee suggestions fall short on this new discovery of mode of transmission of Zika virus.