Dallas, Texas, medical officials reported the first known case of Zika transmission in the United States – and found it was contracted by sexual contact, not mosquito bite.
The discovery came just a day after the World Health Organization declared Zika, a virus that is suspected of causing brain-growth defects in fetuses, a global public health emergency.
Previously, it was thought the virus was transmitted by mosquitoes.
But in a Twitter message, a Dallas County Health and Human Services official said testing by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the victim actually contracted the virus by engaging in sexual activity with a person who had just traveled to Venezuela, the Associated Press reported. The infected person had not traveled outside the United States, the county reported.
County officials also said they were not aware of anyone contracting Zika by mosquito bites in their local area.
The Pan American Health Organization acknowledged it had seen one prior case of Zika transmission by sexual contact. But the organization also said more studies were needed to conclude sexual contact was a means of contracting the virus, AP reported.
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The virus has been tied to microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and brains. Brazil, where the Olympics are set to kick off in August, has reported about 3,700 cases of microcephaly that health officials think are tied to Zika.
Previously, medical officials said it would take researchers about a decade to develop a vaccine, as reported by WND.