Florida Gov. Rick Scott confirmed the state's first case of sexually-transmitted Zika virus on Wednesday. While a total of 52 cases of Zika have been reported in the state, all of the other patients contracted the virus while travelling out of the country, according to the Miami Herald. Most people contract the virus from Aedes aegypti mosquito bites, though there have been reported cases of infection via blood transfusion elsewhere. Now, though, U.S. citizens have another mode of infection to look out for: sex with an infected patient. Unfortunately, it's not yet known exactly how many cases of Zika were sexually transmitted, but according to USA Today, the U.S. is investigating more than a dozen possible cases of sexually transmitted Zika.
A case of sexually transmitted Zika was reported in Texas in February, according to the New York Times. Cases have also been confirmed in France and Argentina. Although the World Health Organization originally considered the risk of sexually transmitted Zika to be "very limited," WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan released a statement on Tuesday saying that reports "strongly suggest that sexual transmission of the virus is more common than previously assumed." It's no longer enough to just avoid travelling to Mexico, the Carribean, Central and South America, or the Pacific Islands (boy, that list is getting long); now, people may need to avoid sexual contact with those who have traveled to those places as well.
Unfortunately, since the outbreak is so new, not much is known about sexual transmission of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise that, although Zika can be spread from semen, as of yet, there are no known cases of transmission via "mouth-to-penis oral sex" (such a sexy way to phrase that), but please, don't go out of your way to become the first case. Just because it hasn't happened yet doesn't neccesarily mean it won't. It's unknown at this time whether a woman can infect a sexual partner with Zika, though it looks unlikely. (Again, don't go testing that!) The best way to prevent contracting Zika in the U.S. is to run away screaming like our friend up there if a potential partner says they just came back from Brazil, but that can be a little tactless, so, for those who insist on getting down with a globetrotter, there's another option.
Condoms. Condoms with everyone. Condoms with people who don't show symptoms. Condoms with people who have never left Ohio. Most people who contract Zika never even know it, because they're asymptomatic. So far, the confirmed cases of sexually transmitted Zika were all transmitted by men who were actively showing symptoms (rude), but the CDC cautions that "the virus can be spread before, during, and after men have symptoms," and again, experts still don't know about women. So, even if that asymptomatic person from Ohio insists that they don't even have a passport, that doesn't mean they couldn't have contracted Zika from someone who had sex with someone who got bitten by a Aedes aegypti mosquito in Jamaica a couple months ago and never thought to mention it to anyone, dig?
Regardless of Zika, condoms are something that everyone should be using anyway, unless, of course, they're monogamous and everybody's been tested and all that. In the mean time, however, it looks like Zika is sticking around for a while, so people should follow the CDC's guidelines and "use a condom the right way, every time, you have ... vaginal, anal, [or] oral sex."