Case Shows Zika Can Be Transmitted From Women To Men

An updated prevention plan from the CDC will likely follow

Today, the CDC reported the case of a woman sexually transmitting the zika virus to her male partner, the first such case of zika being transmitted in this way.

The report came out of New York where a woman in her 20s, who had recently returned from a zika-stricken area, had unprotected sex with her male partner. He was subsequently diagnosed with the infection.

While reports of the zika virus spreading through sexual means has been reported in the past, those have been exclusively from male-to-female partners. Previously, research and anecdotal evidence had made it clear that zika could be sexually transmitted from a male to a woman, given the evidence that the virus remains in the semem for weeks after a person is infected. But as Stat points out, the idea of it being transmitted from female-to-male is not entirely surprising. Research done on primates has shown that zika has the potential to stay in vaginal fluid for up to seven days.

Regardless, this new transmission method will likely cause the CDC to update its current guidelines on preventing the spread of the virus. Right now it recommends that pregnant women avoid traveling to areas that have high rates of zika infections.

While the goal is to prevent transmission and stop the outbreak, the CDC, as well as the WHO, remain confident that the 2016 Olympics games, which will take place in Rio later this summer, will not have a significant effect on further spreading the virus.

Claire Maldarelli

Claire Maldarelliis the Science Editor at Popular Science. She has a particular interest in brain science, the microbiome, and human physiology. In addition to Popular Science, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Scientific American, and Scholastic’s Science World and Super Science magazines, among others. She has a bachelor’s degree in neurobiology from the University of California, Davis and a master’s in science journalism from New York University's Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program. Contact the author here.