EPIDEMIC

Zika May Be Transmitted by Oral Sex

The Zika virus may be transmitted through oral sex and maybe even by kissing, scientists say. In a letter to The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers described one such case. Doctors say they believe a 46-year-old Parisian man who was infected in Brazil transmitted the virus to his partner via oral sex. Physicians detected the virus in the woman’s urine and saliva, and there was evidence of antibodies from the virus in her blood. However, a vaginal swab on the woman came back negative for the infection. Only one case before this year—in 2008—showed that Zika could be transmitted through sexual intercourse. Now, physicians say sexual transmission has been a significant factor in the epidemic’s spread in the Americas. What’s more, in at least 10 countries, cases have been reported despite the fact that no mosquitoes in those areas carry the virus, which has been linked to serious birth defects. William Schaffner, head of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical School, said, “It shows you how elaborate the number of avenues of possible transmission can be.”