Chinese researchers said on Thursday that based on a small study they have conducted, traces of the new coronavirus were found in the semen of some infected men even after they have begun to recover.
This raises the possibility that the virus might be sexually transmitted.
The study was published in the JAMA Network Open medical journal on Thursday,
A team at the Shangqiu Municipal Hospital in China’s Henan Province tested 38 male patients aged 15 to their 50s who had tested positive for COVID-19 and were experiencing symptoms of the disease or had recently recovered.
The researchers detected the virus in sperm from six participants, or 16% overall.
Of these, four patients were currently experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, and two patients had recently recovered.
The researchers said that while the findings were preliminary and based on only a small number of infected men, more research is needed to see whether sexual transmission might play a role in the spreading of COVID-19 pandemic.
“If it could be proved that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted sexually in future studies, sexual transmission might be a critical part of the prevention of transmission,” the team wrote.
“Abstinence or condom use might be considered as preventive means 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.”
The findings are a no surprise since many viruses can live in the male reproductive tract.
Ebola and Zika virus were both found to spread in semen, sometimes months after a male patient had recovered.
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