Although it was previously thought that Zika could only be spread through mosquito bites and sexual intercourse, French scientists now believe that it is possible to spread it through oral sex. It may even be transmitted through the simple act of kissing.
This new data comes from a French couple where one partner contracted Zika through oral sex. The 46-year-old male partner had traveled to Brazil for two months earlier in the year and returned mid-February. He and his 24-year-old female partner then engaged in oral sex.
The female, who resides in Paris where Zika is currently not found, has been confirmed as healthy prior to this instance. She has not traveled to a Zika-infested region nor has she received any blood transfusions. Still, the 24-year-old found herself developing symptoms of the virus and was diagnosed on February 20, 2016.
In this case, the man was found to have Zika in his urine and semen, but not his blood or saliva. The woman was found to have a presence in her saliva, urine and blood, but none was found after a vaginal swab. Because of the presence of Zika in the saliva, scientists say it’s possible that the disease may also be spread through deep kissing.
Dr. John T. Brooks of the Centers for Disease Control remains unconvinced that Zika can be spread through casual kissing, though. He stated:
“Casual kissing has got to be safe because, if it weren’t, don’t you think we’d see a lot more Zika? Every mom who kissed her baby would pass it on. To be sure, we’d have to look for deep kissing in the absence of sexual contact, and that’s hard to find.”
While scientists are taking the notion of Zika spreading through oral sex seriously, they are also taking into account that the couple may not have a perfect memory of the events that led to the spread of the Zika virus.
The report on the couple and new hypothesis on how the virus can spread was published on June 2 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Anna Scanlon is an author of YA and historical fiction and a PhD student at the University of Leicester where she is finishing her degree in modern history.