The Zika virus which has been making headlines lately can be transmitted via sexual intercourse, new scientific evidence shows.
In the last few months, the world has been facing a rising challenge of dealing with the Zika virus. Different parts of the world have reported growing numbers of people affected by this virus. Medics and scientists have been working around the clock to contain the situation.
The Zika virus belongs to a family of viruses known as Flavivirus. It is solely transmitted by the Aedes mosquito which serves as a carrier and isn’t affected itself. A person affected by the disease will exhibit mild symptoms that include flu, slight headache, fever, mild nausea and others. The symptoms will usually clear on their own after a couple of days.
In a report contained in the latest publication of the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers have unearthed new evidence that shows the virus can be passed on from one person to another through sexual activity. This report brings to an end the debate whether the Zika virus could indeed be transmitted this way.
The study was a joint collaboration between several well-known institutions such as the National Reference Centre for Arboviruses, the University of Marseille, and Paris Public Hospital (Bichat Hospital, AP-HP). During the study, researchers investigated two patients who had come into sexual contact and had the virus.
According to Yazdan Yazdanpanah, the lead author and researcher, the man and woman had both been affected by the virus. However, while the man had recently visited an epidemic region in Brazil, the lady had never been in the region. The only connection the two had was a sexual contact.
The study examined a specimen of blood, urine, and saliva from the two victims. Results from the man’s samples showed no evidence of the Zika virus in his blood, saliva, or urine. It was however discovered that his sperm sample had a high concentration of up to 300 million copies per milligram. The woman’s blood and urine tested positive for the virus.
The analysis showed a 100% correlation between the saliva sample from the woman and semen sample from the man. The nucleotide sequence observed in the genes was identical and only 4 mutations were inconsistent. This led to the conclusion that sexual intercourse is what resulted in the man passing the Zika virus to the woman.
In his concluding remarks, Yazdan Yazdanapah says that based on the molecular evidence, it is critical to also focus on sexual activity when giving recommendations for the prevention of the Zika virus. People travelling to/from the epidemic regions should apply protective measures during any form of sex including oral.