Zika Virus Outbreak Latest News: US has 14 New Sexually Transmitted Cases

Fourteen new sexually transmitted cases of the Zika virus have been reported in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.

On Tuesday, federal health officials reported 14 more people who may have been infected with the Zika virus even without travelling to regions affected by the outbreak. The new cases provide strong evidence that people can contract the virus often through sexual contact, according to NBC News.

In a statement, the CDC said they are looking into the newly reported cases that were possibly transmitted by sexual contact. Some of the patients are pregnant women, the report relays.

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"In two of the new suspected sexual transmission events, Zika virus infection has been confirmed in women whose only known risk factor was sexual contact with an ill male partner who had recently traveled to an area with local Zika virus transmission; testing for the male partners is still pending," the CDC said.

Zika is suspected to be one of the reasons behind serious birth defects including microcephaly, which is caused by damaged brain that has stopped developing inside the mother's womb. The virus is also suspected to be the cause of a paralyzing condition called the Guillain-Barre Syndrome, the report details.

Dr. Anne Schuchat of the CDC said there are still two confirmed cases of Zika virus transmitted sexually. In each case, the man contracted the virus after travelling to an affected area, and the female partner developed the same symptoms within two weeks.

The Zika virus is carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and is spreading through South and Central America, and the Caribbean as well. To prevent the spread of the virus, Brazil is planning to breed and sterilize male mosquitoes using gamma rays from an irradiator. This way, the population of the mosquitoes will be controlled, The Huffington Post reports.

In the United States, President Barack Obama requested the withdrawal of $1.9 billion from the unused Ebola emergency funding to combat the Zika outbreak. The money will then be used to fund research for a Zika vaccine and diagnostic test, and to help affected countries recover from the outbreak.

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