A rare case of the Zika virus being transmitted through sex, not a mosquito bite, has been reported in the United States, the BBC reported this morning.
A patient infected in Dallas, Texas, is likely to have been infected by sexual contact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) told the BBC.
The person had not travelled to infected areas but their partner had returned from Venezuela.
Zika is carried by mosquitoes and has been linked to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains.
It is spreading through the Americas and the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the disease linked to the virus a global public health emergency.
The American Red Cross has meanwhile urged prospective blood donors returning from Zika-hit countries to wait at least 28 days before donating their blood.
The “self-deferral” should apply to people returning from Mexico, the Caribbean or Central or South America during the past four weeks, the Red Cross said in a statement.
Two cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed in Australia. Officials said the two Sydney residents had recently returned from the Caribbean.
Zika has also been found in two unrelated cases in the Republic of Ireland, officials there said. A man and an older woman, who have both recovered, had a history of travelling to a Zika-affected country.
Meanwhile, Brazil – the country worst hit by the outbreak – has revealed it is investigating 3,670 suspected cases of microcephaly in babies linked to the Zika virus.
A total of 404 cases have so far been confirmed – up from 270 last week – while 709 cases have been discarded, the country’s health ministry said.
The ministry also said 76 infant deaths from microcephaly, either during pregnancy or just after birth, were suspected.
The main way Zika is spread is by mosquitoes.
But if Zika can also spread through sex, then it poses a risk to every country not just those with the Aedes mosquito.
So far, authorities have said sexual transmission is rare, but last year they would have said any case of Zika was rare, too.
This explosive outbreak has caught the world by surprise and many key questions remain unanswered.
Exactly how common or rare is sexual transmission? Can it be spread by the 80% of people who show no symptoms? How long does the virus persist in semen? When is it safe to have sex again?
What should men do after visiting affected countries? Can women also spread the virus through sex?
However, this is not a new HIV/Aids moment. HIV infection is incurable and dramatically shortens lives without daily medication.
Zika infections are short, mild and pose a significant threat only in pregnancy.