Northern Ireland health chiefs issue fresh warning about risk of contracting Zika virus through sexual contact

Move comes after it emerges woman in UK “likely” to have caught virus through sex with someone who had been in Zika-hit country

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Health chiefs in Northern Ireland have issued a fresh warning about the risk of contracting the Zika virus through sexual contact.

The move comes after a woman became what is being reported as the first likely case of sexual transmission of the Zika virus in the UK.

The woman has made a full recovery, and it is thought she had been infected by her partner, who had recently visited a Zika-hit country.

Cases of sexual spread have been reported in other countries and experts said the UK case was “not unexpected”.

An update by Public Health England issued on Thursday said there had been 265 cases of Zika in the UK with one “likely” spread through sex.

Reacting to the new figures, the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland said they are “reminding male travellers to and from Zika-affected areas to use condoms or barrier methods for sexual activity for six months after being in an affected area”.

Dr Lorraine Doherty, Assistant Director of Public Health (Health Protection) at the PHA, added: “At this time of year we see an increase in the numbers of people travelling all over the world to visit friends and family, and while sexual transmission of the Zika virus is not common, as a precaution male travellers, regardless of having symptoms or not, should use condoms and other barrier methods during sex for six months after leaving an affected area.”

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