Sanjay Gupta answers your questions about sexually transmitted Zika virus

CDC confirmed the first case of Zika virus being transmitted sexually in the U.S. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been following...

Posted by CNN on Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Story highlights

  • This would be the third documented case of sexually transmitted Zika virus
  • Dr. Sanjay Gupta answers people's concerns about the virus in a Facebook chat
  • CDC calling for avoidance of semen from anyone exposed or sick from Zika

Atlanta (CNN)The Zika virus has been sexually transmitted in Texas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed on Tuesday. It is the first case of the virus being locally acquired in the United States in the latest outbreak.

In a breaking news update that came out after this chat occurred, the CDC updated its Zika virus guidance for pregnant women, advising each to protect herself if her male sexual partner has traveled to or lives in an area where the virus is circulating.
    "Until we know more ... you should abstain from sex or use condoms the right way every time," the CDC says.
      How serious is this latest development in the fight against the virus, and what can you do to protect yourself?
      Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, has been following the Zika outbreak and went on Facebook on Wednesday to take questions. Here are the highlights from the live video chat, edited for brevity and clarity:
      How did the CDC confirm that the Zika virus was transmitted sexually?
        A man who returned from a trip to Venezuela and wasn't feeling well. He and his wife were tested for the Zika virus and both were found to have it. She had not left the United States since 2008, so as a result of putting that all together, they determined she contracted it sexually.
        How did these cases of the Zika virus suddenly explode?
        Someone got on a plane in an area with Zika virus circulating. They flew to a country where mosquitoes that can carry the Zika virus are flying around. The transmission starts once the mosquito bites that person, then bites someone else.
        What are the symptoms?
        Four out of five people with the Zika virus won't have any symptoms at all, so will likely never know they had the virus at all. Twenty percent will have flu-like symptoms, which may include rash, redness of the eyes, fever and joint pains. This sort of infection can feel like a lot of other infections and be hard to distinguish. The biggest concern is for women who are pregnant.
        If they contract Zika virus, there's seems to be a possibility it could cross the placenta, get into the amniotic fluid and cause microcephaly, a birth defect affecting brain development where the baby is born with an abnormally small head.
        Is microcephaly purely cosmetic?
        The microcephaly that is being caused by the Zika virus is not purely cosmetic. Microcephaly literally means small head, small brain.
        Their are children who are born with microcephaly who can have relatively normal cognition. But you have to look at why the microcephaly occurred. With an infection like this, they have found evidence of a virus interfering with the way the brain actually developed. If it interferes, this is not all a cosmetic concern. This is a concern of cognitive, intellectual and developmental delays.
        We know that some 4,200 children have had microcephaly over several months. To give you some context: There were about 146 children in a year period before, so the numbers definitely spiked. We also know that 51 of the children have died. So this is not just a cosmetic concern.
        If you're a woman traveling to a country where the Zika