Tuesday, September 06, 2016

WHO: Updated Interim Guidance On Prevention Of Sexual Transmission Of Zika Virus


Over the past few months we've seen additional evidence suggesting that sexual transmission of the Zika virus is not only more common than originally suspected, but that the virus can be transmitted in a number of surprising ways.

MMWR: Likely Sexual Transmission Of Zika From An Asymptomatic Male
Eurosurveillance: 2 Reports Of Zika RNA Detection In Semen Six Months After Infection
MMWR: 1st Female-to-Male Sexual Transmission of the Zika Virus - NYC

In light of these revelations the CDC recently updated their Interim Guidance and now it is the World Health Organization's turn. 

From their emailed announcement, the notable changes include:
  • for regions WITH active transmission of Zika virus, WHO recommends that sexually active men and women be correctly counselled and offered a full range of contraceptive methods to be able to make an informed choice about whether and when to become pregnant n order to prevent possible adverse pregnancy and fetal outcomes;
  • for regions with NO active transmission of Zika virus, WHO recommends practising safer sex or abstinence for a period of 6 months for men and women who are returning from areas of active transmission (whether they are trying to conceive or not) to prevent Zika virus infection through sexual transmission. Note that this recommendation applies to both men and women, whether they show Zika symptoms or not. This is a change to the interim guidance of 7 June where WHO recommended at least 8 weeks of practising safer sex or abstinence if the person returning from an area where transmission is known to occur was male and not showing symptoms.
My thanks to for tweeting the link.

Interim guidance 

World Health Organization

Publication details

Number of pages: 5 Publication date: Updated 6 September 2016 Languages: English WHO reference number: WHO /ZIKV /MOC/16. 1 Rev. 3



The primary transmission route of Zika virus is via the Aedes mosquito. However, mounting evidence has shown that sexual transmission of Zika virus is possible and more common than previously assumed. This is of concern due to an association between Zika virus infection and adverse pregnancy and fetal outcomes, including microcephaly, neurological complications and Guillain-Barr√© syndrome. 

The current evidence base on Zika virus remains limited. This guidance will be reviewed and the recommendations updated as new evidence emerges.

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