The Public Health Agency of Canada has just identified the first sexually transmitted case of Zika virus in the country. They believe the person, who lives in Ontario, caught the virus from a sexual partner who got it while visiting an affected country.
Mosquito bites are the main way Zika spreads. Dr. Mark Loeb, an infectious disease specialist with Hamilton Health Sciences, says that so far there have been fewer than a dozen published reports of Zika being passed from one partner to another during sexual activity. All of those cases involved a man passing on the infection.
“consider using condoms or abstaining from sex for at least eight weeks after the departure from the area.” -Dr. Mark Loeb
Loeb says the virus can remain in semen for up to two months and maybe even longer. We don’t yet know if men who never develop symptoms of Zika can pass the virus on to their partners. That means it’s important to take precautions after visiting an affected country.
Loeb suggests couples who have recently visited such locations should, “consider using condoms or abstaining from sex for at least eight weeks after the departure from the area.” If a man has Zika virus or symptoms of the virus, Loeb suggests using condoms or abstaining from sex for at least six months.
If you are visiting an area where Zika is prevalent you should take steps to avoid mosquito bites. Wear protective clothing and insect repellent, stay in buildings with screened windows and doors and avoid areas with standing water.
Most people who contract Zika will experience mild symptoms or no symptoms but the infection can be very serious for unborn babies. Women who are pregnant should not travel to any area where the virus is spreading.
- Use condoms or abstain from sex if you or your partner has Zika virus or may have Zika virus
- Wear protective clothing and mosquito repellent if you visit an affected area
- If you visit an affected country, stay in buildings that have screened windows and doors to keep insects out
- Avoid areas with standing water in Zika affected countries
- If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, do not travel anywhere where Zika virus is prevalent