The World Health Organisation (WHO) now advises that travellers returning from any area where the Zika virus is circulating to practise safe sex for at least six months.
This comes after new evidence of asymptomatic males passing the virus to their female partner, and of one symptomatic female passing the virus to her male partner. There is also new evidence of the virus surviving in sperm for longer than previously thought.
WHO says more and more studies are showing that Zika can be transmitted through sex, and because of the risk to pregnancies it’s better to be cautious. The new guidelines refer to both men and women, whether or not they have symptoms of infection.
This is an update on WHO’s previous guidelines, issued in June, which referred only to men and recommended that they use condoms or abstain from sex for eight weeks as a precaution.
The most common form of virus transmission is through being bitten by mosquitoes, and more than 60 countries and territories have Zika transmission this way. However, according WHO, 11 countries have now reported cases of sexually-transmitted Zika.