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Alert: Zika Can Be Transmitted By Sexual Contact

Alert: Zika Can Be Transmitted By Sexual Contact

The future of human health is under threat with the WHO (World Health Organisation) declaring the Zika virus infection to be a ‘public health emergency of international concern’. Although, it was previously known that the Zika virus was transferred by infected mosquito bites from the Aedes genus, recent reports claim that it can also be transmitted via sexual contact. There is currently no vaccine for the Zika virus.

The Zika outbreak

The Zika virus itself is however not a recent phenomenon, with the virus first being isolated in 1947 and deriving its name from the Zika Forest of Uganda. The virus is also closely related to the dengue, yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis viruses, with its carriers being the day-time Aedes mosquitoes. Initially, the infection was confined to the narrow equatorial belt from Africa to Asia, but it spread eastwards across the Pacific Ocean from 2007-2016, reaching the Americas and began infecting people on a global scale, resulting in the outbreak of the 2015-16 Zika virus epidemic.

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Perhaps, the most difficult part about containing the infection is the fact that only one out of five people affected actually shows the symptoms, making it very difficult to diagnose. Furthermore, a pregnant mother may also transfer the virus to her fetus which may lead to birth defects such as microcephaly or incomplete brain development. However for most people, the Zika virus causes only mild, flu-like symptoms, although in adults, it is also connected to the Guillan-Barrè syndrome wherein the immune system nerves are affected, causing muscle paralysis and weakness.

The Zika outbreak began in Brazil, and has spread to other South American and Central American countries, Caribbean island and has climbed upwards to Mexico. In fact in March 2016, Zika was isolated from a 2014 blood sample of a man in Bangladesh as part of a retrospective study. As of August 1, the virus has even reached Florida’s mosquitoes and can travel further north. 14 cases of infection have already been reported in South Florida. Cases of death have also been reported.

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As per reports,“the first reported occurrence of female-to-male sexual transmission of Zika virus” seems to have come from New York City. So far, 15 cases of infection in the US have been confirmed to have been transmitted via sex. Studies also suggest that the virus remains in the semen for as long as 93 days. U.S. travellers are also responsible for bringing Zika back with them with the CDC reporting 2245 travel-linked cases and 8000 local infections in the country.

Measures You Can Take:

Attempts are being made to contain the infection as well as develop a vaccine to immunise the people against the virus. But prevention is better than cure, and here are some steps which we can take to protect ourselves from the deadly infection.

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Prevent Mosquito Bites:
1. Use EPA-registered insect repellants
2. Wear long-sleeved clothes
3. Keep doors and windows closed
4. Empty buckets and flower pots of standing or stagnant water around your house.
5. Keep rooms and toilets clean.

Practise Safe Sex:
1. People living in Zika-infected areas should practise safe sex (including condoms) or abstain from sexual activity.
2. Abstain from sexual activity throughout the pregnancy cycle.
3. If you’re returning from a Zika-infected area, abstain from sex or practise safe sex for at least 8 weeks.
4. If you experience Zika symptoms, abstain from sex or practise safe sex for at least 6 months, particularly if you’re planning a pregnancy.
5. Avoid sharing sex toys.
6. Abstaining from sex negates the possibility of getting Zika via sex.

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Do Not Travel To Zika-Infected Countries
1. Pregnant women should in particular not travel to Zika-infected areas.
2. Do not travel to a Zika-infected place unless it’s an emergency, and if you do, take necessary precautions.

Featured photo credit: naturegirl 78 via flickr.com

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Last Updated on June 13, 2019

5 Fixes For Common Sleep Issues All Couples Deal With

5 Fixes For Common Sleep Issues All Couples Deal With

Sleeping next to your partner can be a satisfying experience and is typically seen as the mark of a stable, healthy home life. However, many more people struggle to share a bed with their partner than typically let on. Sleeping beside someone can decrease your sleep quality which negatively affects your life. Maybe you are light sleepers and you wake each other up throughout the night. Maybe one has a loud snoring habit that’s keeping the other awake. Maybe one is always crawling into bed in the early hours of the morning while the other likes to go to bed at 10 p.m.

You don’t have to feel ashamed of finding it difficult to sleep with your partner and you also don’t have to give up entirely on it. Common problems can be addressed with simple solutions such as an additional pillow. Here are five fixes for common sleep issues that couples deal with.

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1. Use a bigger mattress to sleep through movement

It can be difficult to sleep through your partner’s tossing and turning all night, particularly if they have to get in and out of bed. Waking up multiple times in one night can leave you frustrated and exhausted. The solution may be a switch to a bigger mattress or a mattress that minimizes movement.

Look for a mattress that allows enough space so that your partner can move around without impacting you or consider a mattress made for two sleepers like the Sleep Number bed.[1] This bed allows each person to choose their own firmness level. It also minimizes any disturbances their partner might feel. A foam mattress like the kind featured in advertisements where someone jumps on a bed with an unspilled glass of wine will help minimize the impact of your partner’s movements.[2]

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2. Communicate about scheduling conflicts

If one of you is a night owl and the other an early riser, bedtime can become a source of conflict. It’s hard for a light sleeper to be jostled by their partner coming to bed four hours after them. Talk to your partner about negotiating some compromises. If you’re finding it difficult to agree on a bedtime, negotiate with your partner. Don’t come to bed before or after a certain time, giving the early bird a chance to fully fall asleep before the other comes in. Consider giving the night owl an eye mask to allow them to stay in bed while their partner gets up to start the day.

3. Don’t bring your technology to bed

If one partner likes bringing devices to bed and the other partner doesn’t, there’s very little compromise to be found. Science is pretty unanimous on the fact that screens can cause harm to a healthy sleeper. Both partners should agree on a time to keep technology out of the bedroom or turn screens off. This will prevent both partners from having their sleep interrupted and can help you power down after a long day.

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4. White noise and changing positions can silence snoring

A snoring partner can be one of the most difficult things to sleep through. Snoring tends to be position-specific so many doctors recommend switching positions to stop the snoring. Rather than sleeping on your back doctors recommend turning onto your side. Changing positions can cut down on noise and breathing difficulties for any snorer. Using a white noise fan, or sound machine can also help soften the impact of loud snoring and keep both partners undisturbed.

5. Use two blankets if one’s a blanket hog

If you’ve got a blanket hog in your bed don’t fight it, get another blanket. This solution fixes any issues between two partners and their comforter. There’s no rule that you have to sleep under the same blanket. Separate covers can also cut down on tossing and turning making it a multi-useful adaptation.

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Rather than giving up entirely on sharing a bed with your partner, try one of these techniques to improve your sleeping habits. Sleeping in separate beds can be a normal part of a healthy home life, but compromise can go a long way toward creating harmony in a shared bed.

Featured photo credit: Becca Tapert via unsplash.com

Reference

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