Traces of Zika virus RNA have been detected in urine or saliva since 2014 (see Detection of Zika virus in saliva), What hadn't been demonstrated - until about 5 weeks ago - was the presence of live Zika virus in these bodily fluids (see FIOCRUZ: Statement On Detection Of Zika Virus In Saliva and Urine).
Since then, concerns have been raised over the possibility that saliva might be a potential route for human-to-human transmission. Evidence is lacking, however, and yesterday's ECDC Risk Assessment had this to say:
Risk of sexual transmission
Zika virus genome has also been detected in saliva during the acute phase of the disease . Data about the presence of viable virus, viral load or kinetics are lacking, and at this point in time the risk of transmission via saliva cannot be further assessed.
Adding incrementally to our current knowledge of Zika is a report today from the Journal Eurosurveillance, which extends the length of time that Zika virus has been detected in saliva to nearly a month.
The authors suggest their findings pose questions on the potential risk of human-to-human transmission of the virus through saliva.
While this type of H-2-H transmission of an arbovirus has never been documented, not so very long ago sexual transmission of Zika was considered a very remote, almost theoretical possibility. Today, all major public health agencies are actively providing guidance to prevent sexual transmission.
Eurosurveillance, Volume 21, Issue 10, 10 March 2016Rapid communicationReceived:03 March 2016; Accepted:10 March 2016