HealthDay News — Zika virus (ZIKV) RNA is frequently present in the semen of men with symptomatic ZIKV infection and can persist for over six months, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Paul S. Mead, M.D., M.P.H., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues examined the frequency and duration of ZIKV shedding in the semen and urine of men with symptomatic ZIKV infection. For six months after illness onset, specimens were obtained twice a month and tested for ZIKV RNA and infectious ZIKV. A total of 1,327 semen samples were obtained from 184 men, and 1,038 urine samples were obtained from 183 men at 14 to 304 days after illness onset.
The researchers detected ZIKV RNA in the urine of 4 percent of the men and in the semen of 33 percent of the men, including in semen samples of 61 percent of the men who were tested within 30 days after illness onset. During the three months after illness onset, ZIKV RNA shedding in semen decreased considerably, but in one man, it continued for 281 days. Older age, less frequent ejaculation, and the presence of certain symptoms at the time of illness were independently associated with prolonged shedding.
“ZIKV RNA was commonly present in the semen of men with symptomatic ZIKV infection and persisted in some men for more than six months,” the authors write.