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14 More American Women May Have Been Infected With Zika Through Sex

'That’s much more than I was expecting,' official says
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2016 4:48 PM CST
14 More American Women May Have Been Infected With Zika Through Sex
A microscope image of the Zika virus.   (Cynthia Goldsmith/CDC via AP)

(Newser) – It's beginning to seem the Zika virus is spread sexually more frequently than previously believed. The CDC announced 14 new possible cases of the virus in the US—all of which are women, some pregnant, infected by male sexual partners who have traveled to Zika-affected areas, NBC News reports. According to the New York Times, the sexual transmission of Zika was thought to be rare. “We were surprised that there was this number,” the CDC's deputy director says. “That’s much more than I was expecting.” Only two of the 14 cases have been confirmed so far. The virus is believed to cause serious birth defects and possibly a syndrome that causes temporary paralysis. Still, it's "relatively harmless to most people," as NBC puts it.

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The first known case of sexually transmitted Zika in the US was reported earlier this month in Dallas. The CDC is advising pregnant women to avoid sex or use a condom if their partners have been traveling to areas affected by the virus. Zika has been found in semen, and there is so far no evidence that infected women can pass it along to their sexual partners. Zika is most commonly spread by mosquitoes, though experts say a big outbreak of the virus is unlikely in the US. Meanwhile, the Puerto Rican government has outlawed "condom price-gouging," meaning stores aren't allowed to raise the price of condoms, NPR reports. The government wants to slow the spread of Zika without allowing people to profit off the virus. "Now is not the time to raise prices," one official says. (Read more Zika virus stories.)

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