Does Zika Virus Persist in Semen?
The peer-review Journal of Infectious Diseases published a study on August 4, 2022, that the Zika virus (ZIKV) may remain active in men for months after infection.
While sexual transmission of ZIKV was confirmed in a recent epidemic, the mechanisms behind ZIKV persistence in the male reproductive tract are unknown.
Previously, researchers found that about 33% of men with symptomatic ZIKV infections shed ZIKV RNA in semen, and some men shed ZIKV RNA for over 3 months.
In this new study, the teachers evaluated the semen of 49 ZIKV-infected men to identify immune factors correlating with long-term ZIKV shedding in semen and ZIKV-infected cell types in semen.
They found prolonged ZIKV RNA shedding in semen was associated with male reproductive tract inflammation, indicated by higher leukocyte counts and inflammatory cytokine concentrations in the semen of long-term versus short-term shedders.
Additionally, they found ZIKV RNA in seminal leukocytes and epithelial cells.
These findings from ZIKV-infected men provide new critical insights into the impacts on male reproductive tract health.
As of August 5, 2022, the U.S. FDA has not approved any Zika vaccine candidates conducting clinical trials.
Note: This study's findings were manually curated for mobile readers.