Coronavirus could be transmitted through semen – Study
Coronavirus could be transmitted through semen, a study suggests.
The Covid-19 virus can persist in men’s semen even after they have begun to recover, a finding that raises the possibility that the virus could be sexually transmitted, Chinese researchers said on Thursday.
Experts said they found traces of Covid-19 in the sperm of men who had recovered from the disease.
A doctor is encouraging people who had coronavirus to abstain from sex or use condoms if further trials show the disease is passed on through sex.
A study of 38 patients found that six of them, including two who had recovered, had the novel virus in their semen.
About 16 percent of those tested had evidence of the coronavirus in their semen, the team reported in the journal JAMA Network Open.
According to the report, about a quarter of them were in the acute stage of infection and nearly 9 percent of them were recovering, the team reported.
“We found that SARS-CoV-2 can be present in the semen of patients with COVID-19, and SARS-CoV-2 may still be detected in the semen of recovering patients,” Diangeng Li of Chinese People’s Liberation Army General Hospital in Beijing and colleagues wrote.
“Even if the virus cannot replicate in the male reproductive system, it may persist, possibly resulting from the privileged immunity of testes,” the team added.
Privileged immunity means the immune system cannot fully reach the region to attack viral invaders.
Authorities believe the coronavirus mainly spreads from droplets produced when infected people cough, which are inhaled by people nearby.
Some studies have reported finding the virus in blood, faeces and tears or other fluid from Covid-19 patients with inflammation in their eyes.
Evidence suggesting that other infectious viruses including Zika and Ebola may be sexually transmitted has prompted similar questions about the coronavirus.
“Abstinence or condom use might be considered as preventive measure for these patients. In addition, it is worth noting that there is a need for studies monitoring fetal development. Therefore, to avoid contact with the patient’s saliva and blood may not be enough, since the survival of SARS-CoV-2 in a recovering patient’s semen maintains the likelihood to infect others,” indicated the report.
To be safe though, the report advises: “It may be wise to avoid sexual contact with men until they are 14 days without symptoms,” the study advised.