How Long Does Zika Virus Stay in the Body?

Even though Zika virus was found to linger for 3 months in semen, scientists say recommendations urging abstinence, condoms for 6 months after infection should still be followed.

HealthDay News — The Zika virus lingers in a man’s semen no longer than three months in almost all cases, according to research published online February 14 in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, held from February 13 to 16 in Seattle.

CDC researchers led by Gabriela Paz-Bailey, MD, tracked the levels of the Zika virus in 95 women and 55 men in Puerto Rico. All participants had recently been infected. 

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The scientists found little virus in saliva and vaginal secretions, but it lingered in blood serum and urine, sometimes for weeks. By 81 days, the virus had disappeared from semen in 95% of men (95% confidence interval, 64 to 98).

Guidelines from the CDC recommend that infected men use condoms or abstain from sex for six months after infection with the Zika virus. Men who visited areas with Zika but haven’t shown symptoms “should consider using condoms or not having sex for at least eight weeks after their return in order to minimize risk,” according to the CDC.

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