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WHO doubles suggested abstinence period after travel to Zika zones

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World Health Organisation says people should follow safe sex practices or abstain from sex for at least eight weeks

People returning from areas where the Zika virus is found should follow safe sex practices or abstain from sex for at least eight weeks, the World Health Organisation has said.

The recommendation, which doubles the abstinence period the WHO had previously advised, comes after scientists found that the virus lingers longer than previously thought in blood or other body fluids.

If the male partner in a couple planning pregnancy has symptoms of the Zika virus, the period of safe abstinence should be six months, said the WHOs spokesman Christian Lindmeier.

People should practise safer sex or abstain for at least eight weeks if they are returning from Zika-affected areas, he said. The previous recommendation suggested a period of at least four weeks, so were upping [it].

The new guidelines reflect what we have learned about Zika disease and its complications, he added.

Asked whether the new advice amounted to an effective ban on pregnancies in Brazil, where the virus first appeared a year ago, Lindmeier said: The guidance is to delay or consider delaying pregnancy, certainly recognising that this is tough for some populations.

The spokesman said scientists were still investigating how long the virus could be traced in saliva, and tests so far had been inconclusive.

All this is being studied to see where else we find the virus and how long it sustains there, he said.

Originally found athttp://www.theguardian.com/us