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Zika Virus: World Health Organization Revises Its Guidelines

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Zika Virus: World Health Organization Revises Its Guidelines

The World Health Organization (WHO) now recommends that those who’ve traveled to a region with active Zika virus transmission should follow safe sex practices or abstinence for at least eight weeks. That’s double the previously recommended four week waiting period. The WHO says men who have had any symptoms of the virus should take it a step further and practice safe sex or abstinence for at least six months. The symptoms include fever, rash, joint paint or conjunctivitis (red eyes).

The WHO cites a recent study in which researchers reported the case of a 68-year-old man returning to the United Kingdom from the Cook Islands. The study says his semen was positive for Zika virus 62 days after his symptoms began. The WHO says that’s the longest documented time on record so far. However, the WHO says it doesn’t know for sure how long the virus can live in semen.

The new recommendation comes as the United States documents a new case of a baby born in the country with microcephaly after being infected with the Zika virus. According to USA Today, a baby with the birth defect was born at a hospital in New Jersey. It’s important to note that the baby girl’s mother recently arrived in the U.S. from Honduras. The 31-year-old mother says she didn’t have any symptoms of Zika virus except for a rash. The child was also born with intestinal and visual issues.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been over 590 travel-related Zika virus cases in the United States. The organization has documented 11 sexually-transmitted cases. As of now, there are no known cases of locally-transmitted cases from a mosquito bite.