An Ontario resident is Canada’s first confirmed case of a Zika virus infection that was contracted locally through sex, health officials said on Monday.
The individual, who was not further identified, is believed to have contracted the virus from a sexual partner who came down with Zika after traveling to an affected country, according to a statement from Public Health Agency of Canada and Ontario’s Ministry of Health.
Zika is transmitted to people mainly through the bite of certain infected female mosquitoes, and a major outbreak that began in Brazil last year has spread to many countries in the Americas.
The World Health Organization has identified Zika cases in Argentina, Chile, France, Italy and New Zealand as likely caused by sexual transmission, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also investigating cases of possible sexual transmission.
Along with the new case transmitted locally through sex, Canada has confirmed 55 Zika infections, all related to travel to other countries. The mosquitoes known to transmit the virus have not established themselves in Canada.
U.S. health officials have concluded that a Zika infection in a pregnant woman can cause microcephaly, a birth defect marked by small head size that can lead to severe developmental problems in babies. The World Health Organization has said there is strong scientific consensus that Zika can also cause Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis in adults.
The connection between Zika and microcephaly first came to light last fall in Brazil, which has now confirmed more than 1,100 cases of microcephaly that it considers to be related to Zika infections in the mothers.
There is no treatment or vaccine for Zika infection.