Hold Off On Sex If You’ve Been Near Zika Virus, The CDC Warns

If you’ve been exposed to Zika virus and are trying to get pregnant, you should hold off on having sex, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday.

The CDC released new pregnancy guidelines for anyone who’s at even slight risk for the virus, which is suspected of causing birth defects and is currently spreading through South and Central America and the Caribbean. Men and women who traveled to Zika-affected areas but are not showing symptoms of the disease should wait eight weeks before trying to conceive, the CDC advises.

Men who are showing symptoms or who have been diagnosed with the condition should wait longer: The CDC says men should hold off on having unprotected sex for six months, while women in the same situation are prescribed an eight-week waiting period.

Zika is primarily mosquito-borne, but can also be transmitted from mother to fetus or newborn and from men to their sexual partners. The virus lasts longer in semen than in blood, a fact that surel influenced the updated guidelines for men.

Symptoms of the virus are usually mild and short-lived and include fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. But researchers suspect Zika can also cause certain neurological disorders and microcephaly, a birth defect that affects fetal brain development and may cause miscarriage, stillbirth or babies to be born with heads that are smaller than normal.

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