PARENTS

Pregnant Brazilian Women Warned To Keep From Kissing, Following New Zika Virus Discovery

02/06/2016 12:49 EST | Updated 02/06/2016 12:59 EST

Pregnant women in Brazil are being warned to think twice about kissing, amid mounting global concern over the Zika virus spread.

Brazilian scientists announced that they have found the virus in two infected patients' saliva and urine at a Friday press conference

The mosquito-borne virus is commonly spread through bites, but there have been reports of transmission through sex and blood transfusions, and this discovery has brought on more concerns as it spreads rapidly across the Americas. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared it an international emergency this week.

President of the Brazilian federal biomedical research institution, Paulo Gadelha, has said transmission via the two bodily fluids requires more research, but he advised caution.

"We cannot say today that there is no possibility of transmission," he told reporters Friday.

Gadelha warns pregnant women not to kiss strangers, as carnival celebrations get underway across the country, as well as to refrain from sharing cutlery, glasses and plates with others who show symptoms of the virus.

paulo gadelha

Paulo Gadelha, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation president, and Myrna Bonaldo, lead researcher, address reporters in a press conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Friday.

Carnival, the five-day festival which marks the beginning of Lent, is widely-known for street parties, drinking and boisterous displays of affection.

Possible links between the Zika virus and a rare birth defect, microcephaly, which causes brain damage and an abnormally small head, have been a large concern. Cases of the abnormality have risen sharply in Brazil in correlation with mothers having shown symptoms of the virus in their first trimester.

WHO said that the Zika virus has been found originating in 33 countries and indirect transmission has been found in six countries from January 2014 to February 2016.

Men have also been encouraged to use condoms with pregnant partners if they've recently been to a country where the virus is present, or abstaining from sex altogether for the duration of the pregnancy.

In addition, U.N. officials also called on Catholic-majority nations in Latin America to loosen abortion laws for women who fear their fetus may be at risk for the rare birth defect.

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