US Sees More Sexually Transmitted Zika Cases

     (CN) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday it is investigating 14 possible cases of the Zika virus being transmitted sexually, several of which involve pregnant women.
     Each of the suspected cases involves sexual contact with a person who had traveled to an area dealing with active transmission of the virus, which has spread to at least 26 nations in Latin America and the Caribbean.
     "Like previously reported cases of sexual transmission, these cases involve possible transmission of the virus from men to their sexual partners," the CDC said in the statement. "These new reports suggest sexual transmission may be a more likely means of transmission for Zika virus than previously considered."
     The agency reports that two of the cases involve women whose only risk of exposure came from sexual contact with male partners who had exhibited symptoms of the virus after returning from an area dealing with active Zika transmissions.
     Four additional cases of women potentially contracting Zika have pending lab results, while another eight suspected cases are still under investigation.
     In response to these cases, the CDC urges individuals to follow guidelines it released on Feb. 5 recommending that individuals - especially pregnant women - practice abstinence or use a condom during sex.
     The risk for pregnant women is more significant due to the chance that their babies will be born with microcephaly, a congenital disorder that leads to reduced head size, brain damage and potential death.
     Despite reports of the virus being transmitted sexually, the agency cautions that preventing mosquito bites is also important.
     "Although sexual transmission of Zika virus infection is possible, mosquito bites remain the primary way that Zika virus is transmitted," the CDC said.
     The agency would not say where the new sexually transmitted Zika cases were discovered since the risk applies to all women in the United States, Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, deputy incident manager for Zika virus at the CDC, told CNN.
     These potential Zika infections come weeks after a woman in Dallas was diagnosed with the virus following sexual contact with a male partner who had visited an infected area.