(Photo: Getty Images)
A person in Dallas County, Texas, has contracted the Zika virus through sexual contact with an infected person who had visited a country where an outbreak has been identified.
Several cases of Zika virus had been confirmed across the United States, but only among people who were believed to have contracted the virus while traveling abroad in countries with active Zika virus outbreaks. The case in Dallas is the first time that experts believe a person with Zika symptoms contracted the virus within the United States.
Prior to the case in Dallas, experts did not know whether the virus could be spread through sexual contact. “Now that we know Zika virus can be transmitted through sex, this increases our awareness campaign in educating the public about protecting themselves and others,” Zachary Thompson, Dallas County Health and Human Services director, said in a statement.
Experts expect the Dallas patient to recovery fully. “Only 1 out of 5 people is going to exhibit symptoms, and for most of them it’s going to be extremely mild — a little fever, a little rash, a little joint pain,” says William E. Schweizer, MD, MPH, clinical associate professor and medical director, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, NYU Langone Medical Center, in an interview with Yahoo Health.
Fever, joint aches, a mild skin rash, and reddened eyes (similar to pinkeye) are the key symptoms. “It’s the conjunctivitis, the red eyes, that I think is a little more unique than what you see with the flu or a cold,” Schweizer tells Yahoo Health.
The Zika virus has been linked to serious birth defects, including microcephaly, a condition where infants are born with abnormally small heads. The disease has not been proven conclusively to cause microcephaly, however, and more research is needed to confirm the link.