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Add oral sex, kissing and peeing to the list of ways Zika may spread

Charlotte Hilton Andersen is the author of the book The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything and runs the popular health and fitness website of the same name, where she tries out a new workout every month, specializing...

Heads-up: Oral sex is now thought to transmit Zika

Just when you thought you'd heard every scary thing about the Zika virus, this happens.

Add this to your list of Zika-related worries: It appears the virus can be transmitted from all types of sexual contact. French authorities just reported a case of Zika infection that appears to have come from a passionate reunion between lovers after the woman welcomed the man home from a trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with a blow job.

More: 'How long is it active?' and 5 more tough questions we still have about Zika

The couple had sex seven times in the 10 days after his return even though he'd come home recovering from a fever, rash and headache. While the sex started with the standard p-in-v variety, they always finished with oral sex as their preferred method of birth control, said Dr. Yazdan Yazdanpanah, an infectious disease specialist at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Paris and one of the report’s authors.

This is significant not just for their stamina — ah, young love! — but because it is the first recorded incidence of Zika being transmitted through oral sex. After the woman fell ill, both were tested and came up positive for Zika virus. The doctors discovered that not only did it appear that the woman had acquired the disease orally, but she also showed the virus in samples of her saliva and urine, leading them to question if it can also be transmitted through things like pee or kissing.

"To be sure, we’d have to look into deep kissing in the absence of sexual contact, and that’s hard to find," noted one researcher in what has got to be one of my favorite science quotes of all time. There was no comment about things like peeing in hot tubs or tongue kissing during spin the bottle at middle school parties. (That said, neither of those things is particularly fun anyhow, so avoid them regardless of their potential viral risk.)

"I don’t think this changes anything, but it shows you how elaborate the number of avenues of possible transmission can be," added Dr. William Schaffner, head of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical School, to The New York Times. Perhaps "elaborate avenues" will be the title of the newest Cosmo sex position?

All sex jokes aside, exactly how Zika is transmitted is serious business both abroad and here in America. Athletes are already pulling out of the Summer Olympics scheduled to happen in Rio in just a few weeks, citing fears for not only their health but also that of their loved ones. At the same time, the U.S. has just reported the third baby born today with microcephaly caused by Zika.

More: Zika is making me reconsider having a baby

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