Zika virus can remain in sperm for 6 months

Unprotected sex is spreading Zika virus in Florida

MIAMI – Mosquitoes are not the only ones spreading the Zika virus in Florida. The disease is also spreading through unprotected sex. But epidemiologists are still trying to figure out how long the virus can remain in semen. 

The results of a new case study at the Spallanzani Institute for Infectious Diseases in Rome indicate the potential for the sexual transmission of the virus may be more concerning than epidemiologists originally thought. 

"The virus could replicate specifically in the male genital tract and may persist in semen" for about six months, said the study published in the Eurosurvellance medical journal covering epidemiology. 

The World Health Organization is reviewing the results of the study. Doctors first thought the virus could be in semen for about 90 days. 

Epidemiologists are also studying the possibility that the virus could be spreading through saliva. 

Some patients don't experience any symptoms, so this is making it more difficult to contain the spread of the virus. 

As a precaution, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that men who have traveled to areas at risk for Zika -- including an area in Miami's Wynwood -- abstain from unprotected sex.

The first known case of the Zika virus through sexual contact in the U.S. was reported earlier this year in Texas. The cases involve men who visited areas with outbreaks and who infected women, who had not traveled to these areas. 

The CDC hasn't found any evidence that women are spreading the virus through unprotected sex. 

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