New York health department to offer free Zika testing for pregnant women

New York's Zika testing program currently offers screenings to pregnant women who traveled to areas with active transmission or individuals who developed Zika-like symptoms within a month of traveling to such areas. The program is now expanding to include tests for pregnant women who had unprotected sex with a partner who traveled to active transmission areas, according to a Reuters report.

Four out of five Zika carriers are asymptomatic, and World Health Organization general director Margaret Chan, MD, said Tuesday that sexual transmission is more common than researchers previously thought, making the risk of contracting the infection through unprotected sex with a partner who is carrying Zika but presenting no symptoms a greater concern.

The CDC and New York health department are recommending that pregnant women or women who may become pregnant should avoid unprotected sex with partners who may have traveled to areas of active Zika transmission. Aedes aegypti, the mosquito species known for transmitting Zika in Central and South America, are not generally present in the northeastern U.S., but researchers are investigating whether a related species, Aedes albopictus, which is present in the area is capable of passing on the virus through its bite. 


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