First case of sexually transmitted Zika virus reported in Pinellas

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First case of sexually transmitted Zika virus reported in Pinellas

The Florida Department of Health confirmed Tuesday the state's first sexually transmitted Zika case of 2017 in Pinellas County.

The newly identified infection is classified as travel-associated as the infected individual's partner recently traveled to Cuba and experienced symptoms indicative of Zika infection, which can include fever, rash and conjunctivitis. Both patients tested positive for Zika. The person's partner, who had not traveled, also tested positive.

There are 118 reported cases of Zika in Florida in 2017, according to the health department.

The health department said there's no evidence of mosquitoes transmitting Zika anywhere in Florida.

The Zika virus is most commonly transmitted via infected mosquitoes, but in rare cases has been transmitted through sexual contact.

The State Surgeon General has activated a 24-hour Zika hotline in Florida to answer questions and concerns.

In the new study, researchers infected monkeys with the strain of Zika virus that has been circulating in North and South America in recent years, and collected saliva from the infected ones. At Gov. Rick Scotts direction, all county health departments offer free Zika risk assessment and testing to pregnant women.

Zika virus can also be transmitted from mother to child.

Just last week, Texas health officials confirmed a Zika case most likely contracted through a mosquito bite. "It is critical for people who recently traveled overseas to an area with Zika to prevent mosquito bites for at least three weeks after they return home", the department says.

The virus has been linked to serious birth defects, including microcephaly.

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