U.S. CDC extends timeframe for testing pregnant women with possible Zika exposure

Added On July 26, 2016

WASHINGTON, July 25 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday extended the timeframe for testing pregnant women up to 14 days after possible Zika exposure in its newly updated recommendations.

"New information has indicated that some infected pregnant women can have evidence of Zika virus in their blood for longer than the previously recommended seven-day window for testing after symptoms begin, and that even pregnant women without symptoms can have evidence of the virus in their blood and urine," the CDC said in a statement.

"Therefore, the updated guidance expands the Zika-specific blood testing for a longer period, up to 14 days, in pregnant women with symptoms and advises that pregnant women with possible Zika exposure but no symptoms receive this testing as well," it said.

For pregnant women who visit their healthcare provider after the 14 day testing window, a test that indicates the presence of a virus in the family of viruses that includes Zika should be performed first and those who test positive should then receive a Zika-specific blood testing.

Additionally, the CDC said that the virus can now be spread sexually from an infected woman, rather than just from infected men, and that sex now includes the sharing of sex toys, rather than just vaginal, anal and oral sex.

The transmission of Zika from a woman to her sex partners, it said, is still believed to be uncommon and unlikely to result serious side effects, but it could present a risk for pregnant women with female sex partners who may be infected with the virus.

"For this reason, CDC recommends that all pregnant women with sex partners (male or female) who live in or traveled to an area with Zika use condoms during sex or abstain from sex for the remainder of their pregnancy," the agency said.

"All other couples in which a partner (male or female) has been in an area with Zika can also reduce the risk of sexual transmission by using condoms or abstaining from sex."