Study: Zika Virus lasts in Man’s Semen for Two Months

By Cheri Cheng - 13 Feb '16 11:38AM

A case study involving a British man found that Zika virus can last in semen for two months.

According to the report, a 68-year-old man had returned from a trip to the Cooks Islands and complained of a fever, rash and tiredness. The man sought out medical care and had tested positive for the Zika, a virus that is transmitted via the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The health team monitored the virus and found that it was still detectable in the patient's semen on days 27 and 62.

"Although we did not culture infectious virus from semen, our data may indicate prolonged presence of virus in semen, which in turn could indicate a prolonged potential for sexual transmission," the authors of the report wrote.

Since Zika has been linked to birth defect microcephaly, this report's findings suggest that couples might have to practice safe sex, especially if the woman is pregnant.

The chief of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Anthony Fauci stressed the importance of studying how the virus can persist in semen and whether or not the virus can be transmitted. There has been one case of the virus being contracted through sex.

"We had said, 'Perhaps it is just during the acute infection.' Well, that is obviously not the case," Fauci said. "What we need to do are natural history studies."

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued safe sex guidelines that recommended men who might have contracted the virus to abstain from sex or use condoms.

The report was published in the CDC journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases.

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