Aedes mosquitoes—the main vector for Zika transmission—are present in all the countries in the Americas with the exception of Canada and continental Chile. Despite that fact, Chile reported the first Zika virus infection acquired in continental Chilean territory–it was sexually transmitted.

Condom pic
Image/Debora Cartagena

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the case (Person A) developed symptoms consistent with Zika virus disease: rash, retroauricular adenopathies, conjunctivitis, and arthritis on 4 February. Her partner (Person B) developed symptoms consistent with Zika virus disease after travelling to a country where local transmission of Zika virus is known.

Infection by Zika virus was confirmed for both cases IgM and IgG positive for Zika virus (Person A) and IgM and IgG positive for Zika virus, and negative for dengue IgM (Person B).

Health authorities in Chile are taking the following measures: Conducting social risk communication on safer sexual practices and advising travelers to areas where Zika virus is circulating to seek medical assistance if presenting symptoms associated with Zika virus infection after return.

WHO notes sporadic cases of infection acquired following sexual activity have already been reported in the past. These cases of sexual transmission do not change the overall risk assessment since the virus continues to be primarily transmitted to people through mosquito bites.