The case of a British man who contracted the Zika virus in 2014 could provide more evidence that the virus can be transmitted not only by mosquitoes, but also through sexual intercourse, a new report suggests.
According to the report – published in the May issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases – about nine weeks after the man became ill the researchers found the Zika virus in his semen.
Researchers from Public Health England, which is part of the Department of Health in the United Kingdom, said that the data showed a prolonged presence of the Zika virus in semen. That could also increase the potential for sexual transmission, they added.
The Zika virus, which is now present in more than twenty countries in South and Central America, is usually transmitted through mosquito bites – specifically Aedes mosquitoes. The countries include: Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Suriname, and Venezuela.
However, several new studies imply that in some cases, the virus can also be transmitted through sex. Not too long ago, health officials in Dallas reported that a person had contracted the Zika virus from a man, who recently travelled to Venezuela, after they had sexual intercourse.
Zika virus infections during pregnancy are responsible for microcephaly – a birth defect in which an infant’s head is significantly smaller than the heads of other children of the same age – in babies, according to health officials.
The new report is about the case of a 68-year-old man in the United Kingdom who travelled to the Pacific islands about two years ago. At that time, there was a Zika virus outbreak in the area. The man developed the following symptoms: fatigue, fever, and a rash. He tested positive for the Zika virus.
Follow-up tests, conducted after the man’s recovery, showed that the virus had disappeared from his urine and blood, but was still present in his semen – even though 62 days had passed since the man’s illness had started.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned people about the potential of the Zika virus to be transmitted through sexual intercourse. Men who have recently travelled to areas where the Zika virus is spreading, and who also have pregnant partners, should either abstain from sex or use protection (a condom) until the child is born, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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