NEW GUIDELINES FOR BLOOD DONATIONS, SEX AFTER ZIKA EXPOSURE

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East County News Service

February 3, 2016 (San Diego) – Recent evidence reveals troubling facts: Zika virus has been transmitted sexually and found in blood plasma.

British health officials have issued guidelines urging that travelers to areas with Zika virus outbreaks should abstain from unprotected sex for at least four weeks, or up to six months if symptoms of Zika occur including rash, fever, joint pain and eye inflammation.  Since 80% of patients with Zika have no symptoms, some health authorities have suggested condoms should be used for an extended period even in those with no symptoms.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control has indicated it will be developing guidelines soon.

In addition, the Red Cross is asking people who travel to regions with Zika outbreaks to delay donating blood for 28 days.

A Texas patient contracted Zika during sexual contact from a traveler returning from a Zika-infested area overseas.  Previously, a researcher’s wife is also believed to have contracted Zika sexually from her husband, who had traveled abroad.

Zika virus is believed responsible for thousands of cases of microcephaly, or small skulls in infants, often causing severe brain damage.  The microcephaly cases have primarily occurred in Brazil and Columbia, though Zika has been confirmed in 24 countries and territories. Pregnant women are advised to avoid travel to those places.

There is also concern that Zika may be responsible for a growing number of cases of Guillain-Barre, a paralyzing condition that is usually temporary, but can be permanent, in both men and women.