WHO: Sexual transmission of Zika virus more common than we thought

Investigations have revealed that sexual transmission of Zika virus, a phenomenon that has been observed for months but thought rare, is more common that previously assumed, Margaret Chan, MD, general director of the World Health Organization, said at an emergency committee meeting on Tuesday.

The WHO also said that pregnant women must avoid traveling to the more than 30 countries where Zika virus is commonly contracted, and they should practice safe sex if they believe their partners traveled to areas where they may have been exposed, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Although scientists have been hesitant to declare an absolute link between the virus and the huge surge in birth defects in affected areas, research exploring the link has kicked into overdrive and is turning up evidence that suggests the connection real. This includes studies that have shown the virus can damage nerve cells and fetal tissues. Additionally, nine countries have now reported increases in cases of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that can cause paralysis and be fatal, that are being tentatively linked with Zika virus.

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