Zika virus is transmitted mainly through mosquito bites by an infected Aedes species mosquito. It can also be passed by sexual contact with an infected man. There is also evidence of Zika virus being transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy.
The Zika virus can be passed through sex from a person who has Zika virus to his or her sex partners. Sex can include vaginal, anal or oral sex and the sharing of used sex toys.
Zika can be passed through sex, even before the infected person starts showing symptoms, while they have symptoms and even after their symptoms end. This virus may also be passed by a person who carries the virus but never develops any symptoms.
It is a fact that the Zika virus can remain in semen longer than in other body fluids, including urine, vaginal fluids and blood. There is ongoing research to find out how long the Zika virus can survive in the semen and vaginal fluids of people who are infected by it. Available data says it can be detected for up to two months following the infection, while it’s only detectable for about a week in blood samples.
Symptoms of Zika Virus
The symptoms of Zika virus are similar to other tropical infections like dengue or chikungunya. They may include a skin rash, fever, red eyes and body aches. These symptoms usually last less than 10 days, but up to three-quarters of infections are asymptomatic, which is why this virus is so tricky to detect.
If an infected man has sex with a woman who is pregnant or may become pregnant soon, the fetus could then be at risk of becoming infected as well and possibly developing birth defects. Infection by Zika virus has been linked to microcephaly in babies who were exposed to it while their mothers were pregnant.
It can also cause a neurological disorder called Guillain-Barré syndrome in adults.
How to prevent getting infected by Zika virus through sex?
Refraining from having sex with an infected person eliminates the risk of getting the Zika virus through sex.
Infected males should avoid sex for six months. If a man has travelled to a Zika-endemic area but shows no symptoms, he should still use condoms or abstain from sex for at least eight weeks.
Using of condoms and other barrier birth control methods, like male and female condoms, can reduce the chance of getting Zika from sex. For full effect, condoms should be used from start to finish, every time during sex, whether vaginal, anal or oral sex.
Not sharing sex toys can also reduce the risk of spreading Zika to sex partners.
You are advised to avoid travelling to Zika-endemic areas. If you have to travel or if you live in such an area, you should follow mosquito bite-prevention steps. It is strongly recommended that you should not have any unprotected sex with anyone who has travelled to or lives in those areas if you are pregnant for the duration of the pregnancy.