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28 Feb, 2016 01:14

First sexually transmitted Zika case confirmed in Europe, as US reveals two cases

First sexually transmitted Zika case confirmed in Europe, as US reveals two cases

France has confirmed its first European case of the Zika virus transmitted through sexual contact.

Marisol Touraine, minister for social affairs and health, revealed that the case was recorded in a woman in Paris. The minister told the AFP that the woman had been infected by her partner who had recently returned from Brazil, an active Zika zone.

Two cases of the deadly Zika virus being contracted through sexual contact have also been confirmed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC said on Friday that laboratory tests had confirmed separate cases in two women who had recently been in contact with an infected male. It follows the health department’s earlier announcement that it was investigating 14 new cases of the disease’s possible sexual transmission.

In an update, the CDC describes four further sexually transmitted Zika cases as “probable,” with two suspected cases being disproven. Six more patients remain under observation.

The two cases confirmed in the US were found in “women whose only known risk factor was sexual contact with a symptomatic male partner with recent travel to an area with ongoing Zika virus transmission,” a CDC statement read.

Zika is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that has been linked to complications in pregnant women.

Since the virus has been found to be present in semen, men who have travelled to Zika affected areas are advised to abstain from sexual activity if their partner is pregnant, or to “correctly use condoms during sex.” It is not known whether women can transmit the virus to sexual partners.

READ MORE: Brazilian state suspends chemical used to fight Zika over fears it may be behind brain defects

According to the CDC, no Zika related deaths have been confirmed in pregnant women in the US, but in two cases infants were lost before full-term. One child whose mother had Zika during her pregnancy was born with an abnormality known as “severe microcephaly,” which prevents full development of babies’ heads and, in some cases, can lead to mental development problems.

There are currently Zika virus warnings in place in 34 countries and territories around the world, according to the latest CDC data.

In a situation report updated on Friday, the World Health Organization noted that links between Zika and neurological disorders “remain circumstantial, but a growing body of clinical and epidemiological data points towards a causal role for Zika virus.”

Almost 4,000 infants in Brazil have been born with microcephaly since October of 2015, compared to 147 for the whole of 2014.