California woman contracts sexually transmitted Zika virus, becomes one of only 51 such people in America

Genetically modified male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are pictured at Oxitec factory in Piracicaba Reuters

A woman from a Los Angeles County became the fifth person in the US to contract the Zika virus through sexual intercourse last year. She became the first person in her city to contract the virus through sexual interaction.

Zika virus is usually not transmitted through sex but certain cases have been reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So far 51 people have contracted the virus through intercourse with an infected person. One percent of every 5,548 diagnoses receive the virus through sexual contact. When speaking of sexual transmission, women are more vulnerable to the virus than men.

The woman, affected by the virus, developed symptoms of the infection in November after her partner came back from Mexico. The woman did not go with him on the trip but was diagnosed with the disease shortly after her partner came back.

According to CDC, those who travel abroad and catch the virus can pass on the disease as a result of which authorities have advised women who develop symptoms to wait for at least eight weeks before trying to get pregnant. CDC says that if a man has already contracted the virus then he should wait six months before having sex without a condom.

California alone has reports of Zika virus spread, though no infected mosquitoes exist there. Laura Kramer, director of a lab that studies Zika at the University of New York at Albany states that since the virus is systemic it affects the testes and semen as well and passes into a woman's body through bodily fluids including saliva. A man's infected sperm usually transmits the disease into the woman's body. 'The concentration of the virus is detectable in semen for probably 24 days at longest, though one in one case it was 44 days,' Kramer told Mail Online.

The virus is risky for women because if they get pregnant, there lies a 45 percent chance that they can pass the virus to the infant. This can lead to birth defects like microcephaly and might hinder the development of the brain. Kramer further states that the level of immunity is high in America is the sole reason behind low level of virus transmission. There might not be a massive outbreak unless the immunity levels fall, as seen in Latin American countries.

Zika virus saw a rapid spread in Asia in 2016 and is spreading even now. Philippines confirmed the first spread of the virus on September 5. Thailand and Bangkok too were diagnosed with Zika virus cases. The virus plagued Brazil and the Caribbean. According to the World Health Organization, 72 countries reported the cases of Zika Virus spread. In Singapore, the first Zika cluster was discovered in 2017 in Hougang.

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus and was first identified in Uganda in 1947. It can be fatal for pregnant women as it can affect infants leading to various disorders primarily microcephaly where the head of the baby turns out to be smaller.