A graduate student works on analyzing samples to identify the Zika virus in a laboratory at the Fiocruz institute in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. (Image via AP Photo/Leo Correa)
The Zika virus spreading panic across Latin America may be spread by more than mosquitoes, experts warn. Research suggests that the virus can be found in semen after it disappears from blood, meaning it can be transmitted through sex, though cases are rare, the New York Times reports.
Colorado State University insect expert Brian Foy says he became infected with Zika during a mosquito study in rural Senegal in 2008, and he believes he infected his wife after returning to the US. (She hadn’t accompanied him on the trip.) He tells 9News that they had sex before he showed symptoms, and since none of their children became ill, he believes intercourse is the only way she could have been infected. Both of them made a full recovery.
Experts say that as the virus—which causes birth defects and possibly paralysis—spreads through the Americas, researchers should make it a priority to discover all the ways it can be transmitted. Foy tells the Times that he has been trying to obtain funding for a study but there was little interest until very recently.
For now, “if I was a man and I got Zika symptoms, I’d wait a couple of months before having unprotected sex,” Zika expert Scott Weaver of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston tells the Times. “If my wife was of childbearing age, I’d want to use protection, certainly for a few weeks.” (The WHO warns that the virus is likely to spread to every country in the Americas except Canada and Chile.)
By Rob Quinn
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This article originally appeared on Newser: Sex Might Spread Zika Virus