Canadian health officials have confirmed the country’s first recorded case of sexually transmitted Zika virus.
An Ontario resident is believed to have contracted the virus from a sexual partner who had traveled to a Zika-affected country and was later diagnosed with the virus, The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the Ontario Ministry of Health said in a joint statement Monday.
Although the virus is largely spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, a growing number of cases involve Zika being spread through sexual transmission.
“We want to remind Canadians that there have been no confirmed cases of locally-acquired Zika virus through mosquitoes, and that the overall risk in Canada remains very low; mosquitoes known to transmit the virus are not established in Canada and are not well-suited to our climate,” said Dr. Gregory Taylor, Chief Public Health Officer in a statement.
Fifty-five other Canadian cases of Zika have been recorded as of Monday. All who contracted the virus were infected while travelling to Zika-affected regions, including South and Central America, parts of Mexico, and the Caribbean.
PHAC advises travelers and their sexual partners who return from countries affected by Zika to take precautions to protect themselves against the virus.
Monday’s news comes on the heels of confirmation last week from B.C. health officials that two pregnant women were among seven individuals in that province who tested positive for the virus. No complications in their pregnancies have been reported, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed, after much speculation, that Zika virus caused microcephaly and other birth defects. Babies with microcephaly are born with abnormally small heads that can result in developmental problems.
With files from Andrew Russell, Global News