Florida officials confirm first case of sexually transmitted Zika

Travelers, and partners of travelers, to high-risk areas need to take extra precaution

For most Americans, especially pregnant women, concerns about Zika virus disease are a distant memory. However, travelers, and partners of travelers, to high-risk areas still need to take extra precautions if recent news from Florida is any indication. According to the Florida Department of Health, officials have the state’s first case of sexually transmitted Zika virus disease.

While the individual had no travel, their partner recently traveled to Cuba and was ill with symptoms consistent with Zika, according to a statement from the Florida Department of Health. The case has been confirmed in Pinellas County and both individuals have tested positive for Zika virus disease.

The risk of sexually transmitted Zika virus disease is well-established. In addition to standard mosquito bite prevention, CDC has been urging individuals, especially pregnant women, to use condoms during sex or not have sex if their partner lives in or has traveled to Zika virus disease-risk areas. (CDC has a current of areas with high rates of Zika virus disease). The virus remains the biggest threat to pregnant women because of the risk of microcephaly to the fetus, and CDC recommends that pregnant women not travel to areas with Zika virus disease risk. If a pregnant women must travel to one of these areas, said CDC, she should be counseled to strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites and prevent sexual transmission during and after her trip.

CDC’s current guidelines for health care providers treating pregnant women state that:

-Pregnant women with Zika virus disease symptoms and with possible exposure should be tested. Possible exposure includes living in or having recently traveled to high-risk areas or having sex without a condom with a person who lives in or has traveled to a high-risk area.

-Pregnant women with no Zika virus disease symptoms but who have ongoing exposure to the virus should be offered testing.

-Testing is no longer routinely recommended for pregnant women with no Zika virus disease symptoms who have recent possible exposure but no ongoing exposure. However, CDC said testing should be considered using a shared decision-making model between patient and health care provider.

Florida has seen 118 Zika virus disease cases so far in 2017 that are linked to travel outside of the continental United States. No evidence exists of local transmission through mosquitoes in Florida—or elsewhere in the United States. Last summer, that was not the case. Individuals in Florida, mainly in Miami-Dade County, were infected by local mosquitoes. The Florida Department of Health took proper action in four “Zika zones” and currently no evidence of active transmission and no additional individuals have been found to be infected.