FLICKR, TATIANA VDBWould-be parents who have been exposed to the Zika virus should wait before trying to conceive, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Friday (March 25). Women should put off attempting conception for eight weeks following Zika infection while men should use protection during sex for six months after being infected, the agency advises.
“In making these recommendations, we considered the longest known risk period for these categories. We then allowed for three times the known period of time,” the CDC said in a statement.
Several cases of Zika are thought to have been transmitted via sex, including the first sexually transmitted case reported in Chile over the weekend. In the US, six pregnant women caught the virus through sex, according to The Washington Post. The typical route of spread is from a mosquito bite, but the virus can persist in semen and presumably jump from person-to-person during intercourse.
“I want to emphasize that this is not an exact science,” Denise Jamieson, an obstetrician who is part of the team leading the CDC’s Zika response, told the Washington Post. “We have so little data to base this on. We’re doing the best we can.”
One concern the CDC mentioned in its announcement is the high prevalence of unintended pregnancies and insufficient access to birth control. “The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is working to leverage existing programs that currently provide resources for or access to contraception” in Puerto Rico, where Zika is currently circulating.