Scientists discover the mosquito virus in the semen of an Italian man who had recovered.
A new study finds that dengue fever, a tropical illness caused by mosquito bites could be passed on through sex.
For the first time, scientists have found the virus that causes the fever in the semen of a man, more than a month after he fell ill while travelling in Thailand.
The lingering virus in a person’s semen has led researchers to think that the condition could be passed on during sex even after the person has recovered.
Although adults only have mild flu like symptoms such as headache, fever and muscle/ joint pain, one and two per cent of dengue fever cases progress to severe fatal conditions.
There is currently no cure for the virus and it is most commonly caught by people travelling to hotter climates such as southeast Asia, Africa, Australia, the Caribbean and South and Central America.
The study, published in journal Eurosurveillance, documented the case of an Italian man in his 50s diagnosed with dengue fever after returning from Thailand in January.
He was otherwise healthy but suffered from joint pain, fatigue and nausea during the illness.
Ill for nine days, he was admitted to the National Institute for Infectious Diseases in Rome where he recovered and traces of the virus disappeared from his blood and urine after 23 days.
However, it was still present in his semen after 37 days. All traces had disappeared from his body by day 55.
The discovery led scientists to think the virus could be transmitted by sexual intercourse, in the same way the ZIKA virus is known to do.
According to researchers, the presence and persistence of DENV [dengue fever] in the male genital tract has never been reported so far.
However, they added that further studies were needed.
Dengue fever outbreaks are usually spread when people are bitten by mosquitoes that have bitten other people with the fever.