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WHO issues travel advisory vs Zika

Practice safe sex for at least six months after returning from areas where the Zika virus has been circulating, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday urged travelers to avoid the risk of spreading Zika infection.

In its Interim Guidance Update on the prevention of the sexual transmission of Zika,  the WHO extended its recommendation on safe sex from eight weeks to six months after “current evidence on the persistence of the virus” in semen and other body fluids.

Earlier in the week, the Philippines reported its first case of Zika virus this year when a 45-year-old married female from Iloilo City was found to have contracted it.

Although the main risk of catching the disease is through the bite of infected mosquitoes, the WHO said recent evidence had also indicated that Zika virus may be transmitted through semen and other body fluids, such as  vaginal fluids and cervical mucus.


 “The presence of Zika virus in the genital tract of a female with Zika virus infection was first reported in July 2016, suggesting the potential risk of female to male transmission,” said the health organization.

With more evidence pointing to sexual contact as a means of transmitting the virus, the WHO said it was important that condoms and other contraceptive methods be offered to the public.

Infection during pregnancy can lead to serious birth defects, including microcephaly or having abnormally small heads, according to health authorities.

The WHO added that women who have had unprotected sex and do not wish to become pregnant due to concerns about the virus must have ready access to emergency contraceptive services and counselling.

In Iloilo City, health officials were investigating where and how a 45-year-old woman was infected by the Zika virus.

Western Visayas epidemiologist Dr. Glen Alonsabe said a three-member team from the Department of Health (DOH) central office was assisting health personnel in the region in gathering more information on the case. With a report from Joel Franco, Inquirer Visayas


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