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Zika Virus 2016 Update: Research Found Testes Contains Highest Level of Virus

Update Date: Apr 12, 2016 06:28 AM EDT

It is confirmed that Zika virus can be transmitted through sexual intercourse. This is after a new research has revealed that the highest level of Zika is not found in the spinal cord or brain but in male testes.

The researchers are working with a mouse model to create a vaccine and treatment for Zika when they discovered why Zika can be transmitted through sex. The highest concentration of the virus is in the testes, Inquistr reported.

The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that Zika virus can stay in the semen longer than the blood. However, it also said that there are still more to learn about the virus and there are still lots of unknown factors about the Zika and sexual transmission.

It is still unknown how long can Zika survive in semen or if a man with Zika virus but does not develop any symptom can still spread the virus through sex. It is also not known if a woman with Zika can spread the virus to her sex partners or will it spread through oral sex.

The CDC is encouraging all couples to be careful on having sex until they provide further information. The research done on a mouse model showed that testes give a safe place for the Zika to stay that support that findings that the virus can stay in semen for a long time.

While it is unknown how long Zika can stay in semen, doctors from the United Kingdom noted that a man's semen remained positive for Zika in 62 days after experiencing the signs of infection.

"We looked for evidence of Zika in the mouse testes mostly as an afterthought, due to mounting evidence of sexual transmission and were surprised that viral levels were the highest we saw in any tissues," said Dr Michael Diamond, lead study author from the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis. "We are now doing subsequent tests to determine how long those viral levels are sustained, which could help us estimate the length of time Zika can be transmitted sexually," he added.

According to Detroit News Time, the Zika virus is currently spreading in the Latin America and the Caribbean and is expected to enter the U.S. in few weeks. The vaccines and treatments against Zika are urgently needed.

The new mouse model for Zika, together with another model that was identified by the researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch, is the first accurate model to be developed since 1976. The new models show infection on the skin as if the virus was spread by an Aedes aegypti mosquito bite.

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