The Zika virus has been known to be transmitted through sex at least once — by a Dallas resident earlier this month — but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that vector might be much more common than originally assumed. The organization is now investigating 14 new reports of sexual transmission of the virus, NBC reports; in all cases, those newly infected individuals had not traveled to affected zones. “In two events, Zika virus infection has been confirmed in women whose only known risk factor was sexual contact with an ill male partner who had recently traveled to an area with local Zika virus transmission,” the CDC said in a statement, adding that testing for men is “still pending.” Several of the new cases are reportedly among pregnant women.
Zika can be sexually transmitted only from men to women because the world is a depressing, unfair place, and because the virus lives in semen. The CDC suggests using condoms to prevent transmission, and even the pope has come around to the belief that, in Zika-infected areas, they’re probably a good idea.
Although Zika isn’t inherently dangerous — 80 percent of people who contract it aren’t affected, and most others experience only mild flulike symptoms — it’s been linked to microcephaly, or cases in which babies are born with shrunken heads and tiny brains. The World Health Organization declared Zika a public-health emergency earlier this month, even though scientists aren’t entirely sure that Zika causes microcephaly. What we do know, now that sexual transmission has been confirmed, is that even killing all of the mosquitoes won’t get rid of it.