The first case of sexually transmitted Zika virus has been confirmed in Dallas County, Texas, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The patient was infected with the virus after having sexual contact with an ill individual who returned from a country where Zika is present.
The Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) is now advising those with symptoms (which include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis) who have visited an area where Zika is present, or had sexual contact with someone who has visited a Zika area, to see a healthcare professional.
“Next to abstinence, condoms are the best prevention method against any sexually-transmitted infections,” said Zachary Thompson, the DCHHS director, regarding the latest case. There are no current reports of Zika virus being locally-transmitted by mosquitoes in Texas. Over 30 cases of Zika virus have been reported across the US so far, with all of these cases resulting from travelers importing the virus from Zika present countries.
The race to find a vaccine that protects against the virus has begun. Today Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, and Merck & Co all said they are evaluating their existing technologies and vaccines for their Zika combating potential. Meanwhile GeoVax Labs (a biotech company) and Sanofi SA have both started Zika specific programs to develop a vaccine.
However, experts are in agreement that a safe and effective vaccine is going to take some time to produce.