REGINA – Health officials in Saskatchewan say they are investigating what’s believed to be Canada’s first possible case of the Zika virus being spread through sex.
Dr. Denise Werker, Saskatchewan’s deputy chief medical health officer, said a woman is believed to have contracted the virus after having sex with a man who had travelled to a country where Zika is prevalent.
Werker said the case has yet to be confirmed, but she wanted to release the information to make sure people take the proper precautions when they travel during March break.
“A lot of people will be travelling to countries where Zika virus is circulating,” she said. “We wanted to make sure that persons who are travelling know about the precautions they should take.”
She said it’s recommended men use condoms for six months after travelling to an affected country.
“Men can transmit Zika virus to women and the virus can remain in men’s semen for longer periods of time than it can remain in the blood.”
She said she didn’t know if the man had been warned about the potential for Zika to spread though sex and she didn’t know if he had informed his partner.
Most people who contract the mosquito-borne virus have no symptoms. Some experience fever, joint pain, rash and red eyes. But the virus has been potentially linked in Brazil to thousands of cases of newborns with abnormally small heads.
Cases of Zika have reached epidemic levels in that country, most of South America, throughout Central America, parts of Mexico and much of the Caribbean. The types of mosquitoes that transmit the virus are not found in Canada.
Werker said cases of sexual transmission are rare and have only been reported in the United States, Argentina, Italy, France and New Zealand.
“If confirmed, this would be the first case of sexual transmission of Zika in Canada,” Werker said.
Saskatchewan has had two confirmed cases of the Zika virus and nationally there have been 32, Werker said.