Date: February 2015
Source: Emerging Infectious Diseases 21 (2) [summ., edited]
Musso D, Roche C, Robin E, Nhan T, Teissier A, Cao-Lormeau VM. Potential sexual transmission of Zika virus.
In December 2013, during a Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreak in French Polynesia, a patient in Tahiti sought treatment for haematospermia, and ZIKV was isolated from his semen. ZIKV transmission by sexual intercourse has been previously suspected. This observation supports the possibility that ZIKV could be transmitted sexually.
The largest known ZIKV outbreak reported started in October 2013 in French Polynesia, South Pacific, a territory of France comprising 67 inhabited islands; an estimated 28,000 persons (11 per cent of the population) sought medical care for the illness. The most common symptoms of Zika fever are rash, fever, arthralgia, and conjunctivitis. Most of the patients had mild disease, but severe neurologic complications have been described in other patients in French Polynesia.
We detected a high ZIKV RNA load and replicative ZIKV in semen samples, but ZIKV remained undetectable by rRT-PCR in the blood sample collected at the same time. These results suggest that viral replication may have occurred in the genital tract, but we do not know when this replication started and how long it lasted. The fact that the patient had no common symptoms of ZIKV acute infection concomitantly to haematospermia suggests that the viraemic phase occurred upstream, probably during the 1st or 2nd episode of mild fever, headache, and arthralgia.
Our findings support the hypothesis that ZIKV can be transmitted by sexual intercourse. Furthermore, the observation that ZIKV RNA was detectable in urine after viraemia clearance in blood suggests that, as found for DENV and WNV infections, urine samples can yield evidence of ZIKV for late diagnosis, but more investigation is needed.