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Experts Recommend Safe-Sex Practices To Prevent Zika

a photo of an aedes aegypi mosquito
James Gathany
Flickr Creative Commons
The Aedes Aegypi mosquito carries the Zika virus.

Researchers say practicing safe sex is now even more important, as the Zika virus continues to spread.

Thirty-three people in North Carolina have been infected with Zika as of August 12 after traveling to high-risk areas, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.The fever-causing virus is carried by mosquitoes, but it can also be transmitted through sex.

This is especially concerning for pregnant women, since the Zika virus is associated with a birth defect called microcephaly, according to RTI International Epidemiologist Jill Lebov.

"Microcephaly is a diagnosis of small head size and brings with it brain development issues," Lebov said. "People are concerned because it has been found to be associated with Zika infection during pregnancy."

The Centers for Disease Control offers Zika prevention guidelines, and Lebov said anyone who thinks they might be infected should talk to their doctor.

"Zika virus is active in semen for far longer than it is in other bodily fluids, so it's important, not only for women to speak to their doctors about their risks and if there's any need for testing, but it's also important for their sexual partners to be involved in that conversation and to speak to their doctors as well," she said.

Lebov said 22 sexually-transmitted cases of the Zika virus have been reported in the U.S.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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