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Canada Confirms Its First Sexually Transmitted Zika Case | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The forearm of a public health technician is seen covered with sterile female Aedes aegyti mosquitoes after leaving a recipient to cultivate larvae, in a research area to prevent the spread of Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases, at the entomology department of the Ministry of Public Health, in Guatemala City, January 26, 2016. REUTERS/Josue Decavele

Health officials in Canada confirmed the first case of a Zika virus infection that was contracted locally through sex.

A resident in Ontario, who was not further identified, is believed to have contracted the virus from a sexual partner who came down with Zika after traveling to an affected country, according to a statement from Public Health Agency of Canada and Ontario’s Ministry of Health.

The outbreak of Zika in Brazil, first detected last year, has been linked to 4,863 confirmed and suspected cases of microcephaly, a condition defined by unusually small heads that can lead to serious developmental problems in babies.

The Zika virus, transmitted mainly through the bite of certain infected female mosquitoes, is spreading rapidly across many countries in the Americas, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which declared the outbreak a global health emergency.

The WHO has identified Zika cases in Argentina, Chile, France, Italy and New Zealand as likely caused by sexual transmission, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also examining cases of possible sexual transmission.

Along with the new case transmitted locally through sex, Canada has confirmed 55 Zika infections, all related to travel to other countries. The mosquitoes known to transmit the virus have not established themselves in Canada.

The World Health Organization has said there is strong scientific consensus that Zika can also cause Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis in adults.

The connection between Zika and microcephaly first came to light last fall in Brazil, which has now confirmed more than 1,100 cases of microcephaly that it considers to be related to Zika infections in the mothers.

There is no treatment or vaccine for Zika infection.

International efforts are being spent to contain the Zika virus and unveil its hidden truths. For instance, Google announced back in January that its engineers were working with U.N. child agency UNICEF to build a platform that aims to map and predict potential outbreaks of the Zika virus, linked to birth defects among children in Brazil.

Alphabet Inc’s Google said in a statement it was providing a $1 million grant to the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund to help their volunteers on the ground, mostly in Latin America, adding that it was also prominently surfacing information about the virus in its search engine.