February 05, 2016

Active Zika Virus Discovered In Saliva and Urine

Active Zika virus has been detected in saliva and urine, a Brazilian public health institute said Friday, posing new questions on the possibility of the Zika virus infection occurring through these routes.

According to medical experts, however, the finding does not necessarily mean the virus can be readily transmitted through these bodily fluids.

Meanwhile, the US has issued new safe-sex guidelines around the Zika virus advising men to abstain from sex or use condoms after visiting affected countries, if their partner is pregnant.

The United States Centers for Disease Control, CDC, believes a recent case of Zika was spread through sex.

Although usually spread by Aedes egypti, the CDC believes a recent case of Zika virus was spread by sex

Also read: USA Record First Case of Zika Virus Transmission, Attributes it to Sex

While Zika is normally mild, the infection has been linked to thousands of suspected birth defects.

The updated CDC advice says avoiding mosquitoes remains the best way to prevent infection, but advises men returning from affected countries to "correctly use condoms during sex or abstain from sexual activity for the duration of the pregnancy".

In another development the governor of Puerto Rico has declared a public health emergency over Zika. The US territory has 22 confirmed cases.


The main method of infection is via mosquito bites.

But scientists say tests on two patients have revealed Zika can be found in other body fluids.

Paulo Gadelha, the head of Brazil's Fiocruz Institute which is part of the Ministry of Health, said: "The presence of the active Zika virus has been found in saliva and urine.

"But that does not mean there is a capacity for transmission through saliva and urine."

Traces of Zika's genetic material was detected in saliva and urine during the 2013 outbreak in French Polynesia, but the Brazilian authorities say this is the first time "active" virus has been detected.

Oswaldo Cruz, also from Fiocruz, added: "It means the virus is active, capable of infecting a cell so this is completely different, it means that the virus is functional."

Also read: Zika Virus Disease: What You Need to Know

Prof Jonathan Ball, a virologist at the University of Nottingham, told the BBC: "Because we can detect a virus in a particular body fluid it does not mean that it will become an important source of virus for transmission to humans.

"At the peak of virus replication in the blood, virus can often be detected in other body fluids, but the levels of virus are often much lower and there is no obvious or efficient means for the virus to get from that bodily fluid into another person's bloodstream."

The risks of different modes of infection are still unclear.

But experts say that the million-plus suspected cases in the Americas have been contained to areas where the mosquito is found, suggesting it does not spread easily through other means.

Brazil has seen many babies with suspected zika virus infection born with small brains
Brazil has seen many babies with suspected infection born with small brains

Brazil has seen 4,783 suspected cases of babies born with small brains, although only 404 have been confirmed, 709 have been rejected and 3,670 are still being investigated.

Also read: Zika virus disease: Questions and answers

Story Source:
The above post is reprinted from materials culled from BBC News. Note: Some sections of it have been edited for content and length.

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