Scientists Are Trying to Figure Out If There's a New Way You Can Get Zika

By Angela Chen on at

Zika is scary, but as long as we don’t travel to certain countries and don’t have sex with people who are infected, all is well, right? Nope, maybe not. Scientists are trying to figure out how a man in Utah got Zika when the state has no infected mosquitoes and he didn’t have sex with the infected person he was helping.

There are currently about 1,300 Zika cases in the US, all of which were acquired by travelling abroad. Until the Utah case, travelling abroad and sex were thought to be the only ways to transmit the disease. Though the virus can live in urine, blood, and saliva—in addition to semen and vaginal fluid—there were previously no cases of it being spread in those ways.

The Utah man has now fully recovered. He had been taking care of an older man who had contacted Zika after travelling, and who died in June. A team from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating the case and testing people who came in contact with the recovered Utah man. Results are not yet available.

“We don’t have any evidence that suggests Zika can be passed from one person to another by sneezing or coughing or kissing or sharing utensils,” CDC director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden said. Good, because if there’s one thing we don’t need, it’s another scare like the SARS one that had everyone wearing face masks and quarantined. [New York Times]

Image: Felipe Dana/Associated Press