A study has confirmed that the Zika virus, known to wreak havoc while masked by mild or no symptoms, can be transmitted not only through bites from infected Aedes mosquito but also via sexual contact.
Researchers from Inserm, the Paris Public Hospitals, Aix-Marseille University and the National Reference Centre for Arboviruses displayed an accurate connection between the virus discovered in an infected Brazilian man and that present in a woman who had never traveled in the epidemic area, but who had had sexual relations with him.
While the ZIKA virus — a member of the Flavivirus family — is almost exclusively transmitted to humans by Aedes mosquitoes, French scientists were able to culture the virus from blood, saliva, urine and/or semen specimens from the infected patients, then sequence the virus samples for genetic analysis. This confirmed their theory of sexual transmission, and results were published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
"Our work confirms, using molecular analyses, that sexual transmission of the ZIKA virus exists, and should be taken into consideration when making recommendations, due to its persistence in the semen several weeks after infection," project coordinator Yazdan Yazdanpanah said. “The period for which men should systematically have protected sexual relations (even oral) needs to be defined.”