Peru reports first case of sexually transmitted Zika virus

LIMA (Reuters) - Peruvian health authorities on Saturday reported the first case of the Zika virus having been sexually transmitted in the country, after a resident contracted the disease while traveling in Venezuela and then infected his wife once back in Peru. Zika has been linked to thousands of suspected cases of microcephaly, a rare birth defect, in Brazil. Health Minister Anibal Velasquez said a 32-year-old woman was infected with the virus after having sexual intercourse with her 39 year-old husband who had contracted the disease in Monagas, Venezuela. This is the seventh case of Zika virus detected in Peru, and the first case of it being sexually transmitted in the country, the Health Ministry said. Traces of the Zika virus were found in the semen and both wife and husband are in recovery, it added. U.S. health officials have concluded that Zika infections in pregnant women 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. (Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by James Dalgleish)