BASHH Statement on Zika virus (ZIKV)

11th February 2016

On 1 February 2016 the World Health Organization declared an international public health emergency after the Zika virus was linked to thousands of birth defects in Brazil.

It has been suggested that ZIKV could be transmitted by sexual intercourse and the virus has been identified in the semen. However, only three cases due to sexual transmission have been reported and the World Health Organisation has stated “The role of Aedes mosquitoes in transmitting Zika is documented and well understood, while evidence about other transmission routes is limited”. At present, the most important individual protective measure is the prevention of mosquito bites in ‘at-risk’ individuals, especially pregnant women.

BASHH urges all individuals, regardless of whether they are travelling to areas affected by ZIKV, to practice safer sex to reduce the risk of all sexual infections by:

  • using condoms for all types of penetrative sex
  • having non penetrative sex
  • being tested for STIs before having sex with someone new, and advising that they also get tested

Patients who have concerns regarding ZIKV and the recent press reports of the potential of sexual transmission of the virus, should visit the Q&A on NHS Choices. This site is being constantly updated - Click Here

Healthcare professionals should visit thebmj.com, which features a collection of free resources from across BMJ and elsewhere.

With regard to pregnant women, the RCOG together with Public Health England have produced interim clinical guidelines for healthcare professionals - Click Here

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