Zika Alarm Rises as WHO Voices Concern

Infection linked to blood transfusions in Brazil

The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed concern over the recent sexual transmission of the Zika virus in Texas amid worries that such infections could make efforts to combat the virus even more difficult, according to a report from Reuters. Earlier, WHO had declared a global health emergency, citing a “strongly suspected” causal relationship between Zika infection in pregnant women and microcephaly in infants.

WHO estimated that as many as 4 million people could become infected in the Americas.

So far, the Texas case is the second one linked to sexual transmission. In another incident, an American man who returned from Senegal in 2008 is suspected of having infected his wife. The medical literature also describes a case in which the virus was detected in semen.

In related news, officials in Brazil have confirmed a case of Zika virus infection from blood transfusions. The health department of Campinas, an industrial city near Sao Paulo, said a hospital patient with gunshot wounds became infected with the virus after multiple blood transfusions in April 2015. Officials said they determined that one of the people whose donated blood was used in the transfusion had been infected with Zika.

The blood center at the University of Campinas said a second person who donated blood in May developed symptoms and tested positive for Zika, although the recipient of the contaminated blood has not developed symptoms of the virus.

Sources: Reuters; February 4, 2016; and Reuters; February 4, 2016.