It looks like you can transmit Zika through kissing. So much for summer romance.
Sounds like something out of a horror film, doesn’t it? You can almost imagine a terrified scientists saying, “President, the virus…it’s spreading, and you got it through kissing!”
The Zika virus is the latest threat to our planet, one that we all need to take seriously. The virus is usually passed from an Aedes species mosquito that has been infected by Zika, and the virus passes into your bloodstream when the mosquito bites. But, it turns out there may be MORE ways to pass the virus from person to person. In this case, it’s mouth on mouth contact!
Yes, that’s right, there’s a big chance you can contract Zika through kissing. Stop being so affectionate, will ya?
At the end of May 2016, doctors warned that the Zika virus could be passed from person to person via sexual transmission. People who had visited Zika-infested areas were warned to wait at least eight weeks before having sex, as there was a risk that they could pass on the disease via intercourse. This 8-week waiting period was intended to ensure that the person was completely free of the Zika virus before sexual intercourse.
But now, it turns out that sex isn’t the only way you can pass the virus to someone else. According to research published in The New England Journal of Medicine, there is a very real chance that oral sex and kissing can transmit the disease. So let’s recount that. Sex = Zika. Oral sex = Zika. And now you can even get Zika through kissing. Sigh. Love is hard.
In the one case cited in the research, a 46-year old Frenchman visited Brazil over the winter, and found himself unknowingly infected with the disease. When he went home to Paris, he had “sexual encounters” with his 24-year old female girlfriend/partner. During these encounters, they didn’t use condoms, but the man only ejaculated during oral sex.
The potential threat: pre-ejaculate secretions or saliva exchanged during deep kissing.
READ MORE: Itchy Vagina: 10 Reasons Why
One thing you need to understand: the man’s saliva tested negative for the Zika virus, even after he began to show symptoms. Even experts agree that the risk of the disease being transferred via saliva is very low. There is always a chance the Frenchman and his girlfriend did something else sexual that caused the virus to be transmitted between them. However, if their recollections are accurate, there is a risk that the Zika virus can be passed from person to person even without the traditional methods.
Of course, the furthest most experts will go is to say that this theory “can’t be ruled out”. Though most agree that it’s very unlikely, there is the risk that the Zika virus can be spread via other methods. It’s important to understand this risk and be aware of it if/when traveling to Zika-infested areas and returning home.
If you find yourself in an area that has a high Zika infection risk, it’s vital that you take steps to protect yourself. There is no vaccine to prevent the spread of Zika, but you can protect yourself from the Zika mosquitoes by:
- Wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts during the day. The majority of Zika mosquito bites occur during the day.
- Stay in places that are air-conditioned, and that have mosquito netting to keep the mosquitos out.
- Use a mosquito net to sleep at night. Though most of the Zika mosquitoes are active during the day, there is always a small chance of a bite overnight.
- Use an EPA-registered mosquito repellent to keep you safe. These repellents contain ingredients that will drive the mosquitos away and prevent them from biting you.
If you find yourself suffering from an infection that could be Zika, it’s vital that you treat the mosquito bites, abstain from sex, and visit your doctor for treatment. If you’re not careful, you could be the reason the infection spreads!