According to a statement released by Dallas County Health and Human Services, "The patient was infected with the virus after having sexual contact with an ill individual who returned from a country where Zika virus is present."
The Center for Disease Control made a statement to CNN relating that they have confirmed test results that show the virus in the blood of "a nontraveler in the continental United States." They stress that the patient was not pregnant, as Zika virus carries a serious threat to expecting women, as it can pass through to the fetus and cause rare birth defects.
This finding confirms what many people had been fearing—that the tropical virus can spread through sex. While this has been suggested before in Africa and Southeast Asia—where Zika was already prevalent—this is the first piece of evidence that the Zika virus may be spreading locally in the U.S. and not just through infected mosquito bites.
The Zika virus has been spreading explosively across the Americas. It has infected approximately 1 million people in Brazil and has spread to at least 24 countries in the past year. Earlier this week the World Health Organization declared the virus and its still somewhat mysterious link to birth defects a "global emergency."
But before we all start to panic, CDC Director Tom Frieden tells CNN, "What we know is the vast majority of spread is going to be from mosquitoes. The bottom line is mosquitoes are the real culprit here."
But that doesn't mean you shouldn't take precautions.
The CDC says it will soon be releasing guidelines about the sexual transmission of the virus with a "focus on the male sexual partners of women who are or who may be pregnant." But, in the meanwhile, "Sexual partners can protect each other by using condoms to prevent spreading sexually transmitted infections. People who have Zika virus infection can protect others by preventing additional mosquito bites."