Metro Weekly

CDC reports first Zika virus transmission from gay sex

Texas couple's diagnosis the first evidence that Zika can be transmitted through homosexual sex

The Aedes mosquito, the main vector for both dengue fever and Zika virus (Photo: ProjectManhattan, via Wikimedia Commons).

The Aedes mosquito, the main vector for both dengue fever and Zika virus (Photo: ProjectManhattan, via Wikimedia Commons).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported what appears to be the first known case of Zika virus, a blood-borne pathogen primarily spread by mosquitoes, that was transmitted through anal sex between homosexual men, Yahoo! News reports

According to the CDC, a man who had traveled to Venezuela infected his male partner — who did not travel to the country — upon his return to Texas in January. Both men experienced a fever, an itchy rash on their upper bodies and conjunctivitis, but no long-lasting complications.

The CDC reports that the couple has been monogamous for more than 10 years and had no history of serious illness or sexually-transmitted infections. By logic, that means the only way the non-traveling partner could have been infected would be through sexual contact. The CDC knows of at least five other cases where Zika was transmitted through sexual intercourse, but those involved males infecting females.

“Sexual transmission through both vaginal and anal sex is an emerging mode of Zika virus infection that might contribute to more illness than was anticipated when the outbreak was first recognized,” the CDC wrote in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released last Friday.

“Such cases highlight the need for clinicians to remain vigilant for and continue reporting any suspected cases of Zika virus infection to their state or local health departments, including suspected infections in symptomatic persons without travel history, but who report unprotected sexual contact with a person who has traveled to an area with active Zika virus transmission,” the report added. 

Zika is predominantly spread through the bit of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most recent outbreaks have largely been centered in the Caribbean, Central and South America, although previous outbreaks have occurred in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Last week, the CDC said there is no longer any doubt that Zika can cause birth defects in fetuses if a pregnant woman is bitten by an infected mosquito or contracts the disease from her sexual partner.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com