Updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expands the Zika-specific blood testing for up to 14 days in pregnant women with symptoms and advises that pregnant women with possible Zika exposure but no symptoms receive this testing as well.
In addition, updated guidance from the CDC recommends that all pregnant women with sex partners (male or female) who live in or traveled to an area with Zika use condoms during sex or abstain from sex for the remainder of their pregnancy.
In a statement released this week, CDC officials noted that the agency “updates its interim guidance related to Zika virus transmission and related health effects based on the accumulating evidence, expert opinion, and knowledge about the risk associated with other viral infections,” and that they will “continue to update this guidance as new information becomes available.”
Some of this new information on Zika virus indicated that some infected pregnant women can have evidence of the virus in their blood for longer than the previously recommended seven-day window for testing after symptoms begin, and that even pregnant women without symptoms can have evidence of the virus in their blood and urine, which is why they expanded the timeframe for testing guidance for pregnant women, according to the statement.
The CDC report came just days after the New York City Health Department reported in a press release that the first baby was delivered with Zika-related microcephaly at a hospital there. As of July 22, the baby and mother were in care and being monitored by physicians. The baby’s mother was infected while in an area with ongoing Zika transmission. Health officials there said they are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on this case.
In an unrelated report, the case of a woman in New York who apparently sexually transmitted the virus to her partner prompted the updated guidance on condom use, according to the statement.
The guidance “expands CDC’s definition of sexual exposure to Zika to include sex without a barrier method (including male or female condoms, among other methods) with any person– male or female– who has traveled to or lives in an area with Zika. The updated recommendations for pregnant couples, include pregnant women with female sex partners who are potentially infected with Zika. They also give advice for potentially infected women about how to reduce their risk of sexually transmitting the virus to partners.”
Although transmission of Zika from a woman to her sex partners is likely not common, it could pose a risk for women who are pregnant, hence the updated recommendations, according to the statement.
CDC. Updated Zika Recommendations: Interim Guidance for healthcare providers caring for pregnant women with possible exposure to Zika virus; Interim Guidance for the prevention of sexually transmitted Zika virus. Media Statement. 2016.