Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 29, 2016 (SKNIS): Residents of St. Kitts and Nevis are being warned that the Zika virus is sexually transmitted and individuals should take all precautions if they are sexually active.
Acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Hazel Laws, shared the information on Wednesday (September 28) while appearing on the radio and television programme “Working for You.” In reference to males, Dr. Hazel said that studies have found that the Zika virus can remain in semen for up to, and even after 62 days. She added that pregnant women are particularly vulnerable.
“We are advising that all pregnant females, if you are not affected as yet by the Zika virus, you should use protection during sexual intercourse because you run the risk of contracting the disease from your partner if he or she has the virus,” Acting CMO Hazel stated.
Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause several birth defects including microcephaly where a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age. According to the United States’ Center for Disease Control (CDC), babies with microcephaly often have smaller brains that might not have developed properly. The CDC lists other possible conditions for infected fetuses or babies as eye defects, hearing loss and impaired growth.
Men are also at risk as the CDC has confirmed cases of female to male transmission of Zika via sexual activity. However, the most common transmission of the Zika virus is from a bite from an Aedes aegypti mosquito. As such, persons were advised to eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes particularly in common places such as old tires, flower pot plates, old cans, and ornamental containers. Regular cleaning of household items such as vases, pet feeding bowls, even toilet bowls should also help.