KHN Morning Briefing

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Health Officials Confirm Sexually Transmitted Zika Case In Texas

Meanwhile, a pharmaceutical company hopes to build off its work with dengue fever in the race to create a vaccine. And states are stepping up to offer prevention measures.

The New York Times: Zika Infection Transmitted By Sex Reported In Texas
A case of Zika virus infection transmitted by sex, rather than mosquito bite, was discovered in Texas on Tuesday, a development sure to complicate plans to contain a global epidemic. The Dallas County Health and Human Services Department reported that a patient with the Zika virus was infected after having sex with someone who had returned from Venezuela, where Zika is circulating. (McNeil Jr. and Tavernise, 2/2)

Reuters: First U.S. Zika Virus Transmission Reported, Attributed To Sex
The first known case of Zika virus transmission in the United States was reported in Texas on Tuesday by local health officials, who said it likely was contracted through sex and not a mosquito bite, a day after the World Health Organization declared an international public health emergency. The virus, linked to severe birth defects in thousands of babies in Brazil, is spreading rapidly in the Americas, and WHO officials on Tuesday expressed concern that it could hit Africa and Asia as well. Zika had been thought to be spread by the bite of mosquitoes of the Aedes genus, so sexual contact as a mode of transmission would be a potentially alarming development. (Herskovitz, 2/3)

The Associated Press: Sexually-Transmitted Zika Case Confirmed In Texas
“It’s very rare, but this is not new,” Zachary Thompson, director of the Dallas County Health and Human Services, told WFAA-TV in Dallas. “We always looked at the point that this could be transmitted sexually.” The CDC says it will issue guidance in the coming days on prevention of sexual transmission of Zika virus, focusing on the male sexual partners of women who are or may be pregnant. (Stengle, 2/2)

The Wall Street Journal: Drug Industry Starts Race To Develop Zika Vaccine
Drug companies are beginning early-stage research to develop a new vaccine against the rapidly spreading Zika virus, joining the race to control an outbreak that the World Health Organization said constitutes a global public-health emergency. It might be years, however, before any vaccine reaches the market, meaning the new wave of research is unlikely to help curb the current outbreak. (Bisserbe and McKay, 2/2)

Reuters: Florida Leads U.S. In Ramping Up Mosquito Programs Over Zika Virus
With no specific federal guideline yet in place to control the spread of the Zika virus in the United States, some mosquito-heavy states like Florida are stepping up spraying and education programs. But the North and West have yet to boost prevention. Only one out of the more than 30 confirmed cases of Zika in the country appears to have been transmitted locally, in Dallas, Texas. Public health officials are bracing for the time when warmer weather increases the number of mosquitoes that can transmit the virus by biting an infected person and spreading it to others. (Gonzales, 2/2)

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: State Health Department Website To Track Zika Virus Cases
Facing several possible cases of the Zika virus, the Pennsylvania Department of Health said Tuesday it will release regular reports on any potential and confirmed infections of the tropical disease in the state. Blood tests for the mosquito-borne virus had been collected from 11 Pennsylvania patients as of Monday, according to the department. One turned out negative, seven had yet to yield results, and three were rejected for failure to meet federal testing criteria, state health officials reported on a Zika webpage at www.health.pa.gov. (Smeltz, 2/2)

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