The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday announced new guidelines, tightening their advisory on the sexual transmission of Zika in hopes of further protecting unborn fetuses from a range of damaging birth defects.
The new guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urge men who have been exposed to Zika to wait longer before trying to make their partner pregnant – even if they have no symptoms. Men should also use a condom longer after their last exposure, the agency says.
Zika causes microcephaly, a birth defect which causes microcephaly, in which babies are a born with small heads and brain damage, and more recently has been linked to a constellation of newly identified problems, including seizures, deafness, blindness and a range of neurological and developmental abnormalities, health authorities say.
According to the CDC, there are 3,565 cases of Zika had been reported in the U.S., which are mostly travel related. One of the areas where most infections are occurring is Florida, which logged a total of 948 cases on Friday, health officials in that state say. Some of these these cases are occurring in Miami-Dade County, where the CDC has cautioned pregnant women to avoid. That county includes Miami Beach, the nation’s only Zika hotspot where homegrown Zika is being transmitted by local mosquitoes.
On Friday, Florida state health officials reported five new cases of homegrown Zika, one case in Miami-Dade County, where a resident had exposure to Zika in Miami Beach. The others also occurred in that county, and the state is investigating to learn where those infections occurred.
In addition, there were 11 new travel-related cases – three in Orange, two in Miami-Dade, and one in Palm Beach counties. There were also five cases involving pregnant women. The state is currently monitoring 97 women who are pregnant or have given birth.
The updated interim guidance on sexual transmission of Zika includes the following new recommendations:
- Women and men who are planning to become pregnant in the near future should consider avoiding nonessential travel to areas with active Zika virus transmission.
- The amount of time to wait to attempt conception for couples in which the man has had possible Zika exposure but no Zika symptoms has increased from at least 8 weeks (previous guidance) to at least 6 months after last possible exposure (updated guidance).
- The amount of time to use a condom to protect against transmission of Zika virus infection or not have sex for men with possible Zika exposure but without symptoms has increased from at least 8 weeks to at least 6 months after last possible exposure.
The CDC continues to advise:
- Women with possible Zika virus exposure who do not live in areas of active transmission but who are thinking about becoming pregnant should wait at least 8 weeks before trying to conceive.
- Women and men who live in areas with active Zika transmission and who are considering pregnancy in the near future should talk with their healthcare providers about their pregnancy plans during a Zika virus outbreak, the potential risks of Zika, and how they can prevent Zika virus infection during pregnancy.
- Women with possible Zika virus exposure who are not pregnant and do not plan to become pregnant and their male partners who want to minimize their risk of sexual transmission should use condoms in addition to their chosen birth control method or not have sex for the same time periods listed for couples planning pregnancy. Couples should be advised that correct and consistent use of condoms reduces the risk for other sexually transmitted infections.
- Women of reproductive age with possible Zika virus exposure who do not do want to become pregnant should use safe and effective contraception.
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