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Presence of Viruses in Semen is Likely More Widespread Than Currently Thought

The detection of Zika virus RNA in the semen of men who have been infected with Zika virus raises the question: How many other viruses persist in semen? To answer this question, researchers searched the scientific literature and found 27 viruses that can be found in both the blood and semen of infected men. The research by Salam and Horby (2017) appears in the October 2017 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC’s monthly peer-reviewed public health journal.

Included on this list are familiar names such as Ebola, mumps, HIV, Epstein-Barr, and herpes simplex viruses. Thus, the presence of viruses in semen is probably more widespread than currently thought, regardless of whether the virus is considered to be sexually transmitted. Although this finding leads to more questions, it highlights the need for researchers and clinicians to consider whether drugs and vaccines being developed or prescribed can be effective against viruses in all parts of the male reproductive tract that may harbor them.

Reference: Salam AP and Horby PW. The Breadth of Viruses in Human Semen. Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 23, No. 10, October 2017.

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