- The Washington Times - Friday, July 15, 2016

A New York City woman infected a man with Zika through sex, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday, adding a new layer to what scientists know about the latest public health scare.

The disease is typically transmitted by mosquito bite, though the CDC had recorded a handful of cases in which men picked up Zika abroad and then transmitted it to female sexual partners in the U.S.

The New York episode is the first documented case of sexual transmission from a woman to a male sexual partner.

Officials said a woman in her 20s had condom-less sex with a man on the same day she returned to New York City from an area with local Zika transmission.

She developed a headache and stomach cramping during her travels, and later felt symptoms such as fever and back pain. After seeking medical care, she tested positive for Zika.

Her male partner developed symptoms about a week after their sexual encounter and also tested positive.

The New York City Department of Health interviewed the man to rule out other means of transmission, such as travel abroad, a mosquito bite or blood contact with the infected woman.

As it stands, no local transmission of Zika has been detected on the U.S. mainland, though mosquitoes are spreading the infection in Puerto Rico and more than 1,300 travel-related cases have been reported nationwide.

Infected mothers in Brazil and other Latin American countries are giving birth to babies with abnormally small heads and other defects, raising the stakes for pregnant women amid the outbreak.

The CDC previously said pregnant women should use barrier methods of contraception with male sexual partners who return from Zika-affected areas.

Because of the New York case, the agency says pregnant women should take the same precautions with female sexual partners, although there have been no reported cases of woman-to-woman sexual transmission.

The CDC reported the revelation one day after Congress broke for a seven-week recess without approving new money to combat Zika.

Senate Democrats on Thursday voted to maintain their weekslong filibuster of a GOP-drafted deal, saying the $1.1 billion package offered too little cash with too many strings attached.

The impasse means President Obama will have to make do without any new money, as health officials continue to warn of a looming Zika breakout in the U.S.

Top Republicans on the House and Senate spending committees fired off a letter telling the White House to ransack other funds if it runs out of money before September, when Congress will be back in town.

“The Obama administration has so far distributed only about one-sixth of the unspent Ebola funding that it diverted to combat the Zika virus,” they told Mr. Obama. “This money is available immediately to prepare for and combat Zika, yet is seemingly not being spent.”

The administration says it will use every penny of the $510 million it swiped from the Ebola account in April, though it takes time for the disbursements to pass through legal red tape.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday the administration is “quite reticent” to dip into Ebola funds again, because the deadly virus still poses a threat in West Africa.

Without new funding in hand, “we’re right now not doing everything possible to protect the American people from the Zika virus,” Mr. Earnest said. “That’s something that Republicans in Congress have to account for.”

About nine in 10 Americans say they’ve heard or read about the virus, although a majority of them are not worried that they or someone in their families will become infected, according to a poll released Friday by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

Even so, about six in 10 say they’re worried that the U.S. will see a large number of cases in the next year, and an equal share think the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will cause an uptick in cases overall.


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