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Zika Virus Found in Saliva

In January, a 20 year old Italian woman was diagnosed with a febrile illness after spending 2 weeks in the Dominican Republic.

ANDREI RYBACHUK / ISTOCK / THINKSTOCK

In January, a 20-year-old Italian woman was diagnosed with a febrile illness after spending 2 weeks in the Dominican Republic. Researchers in the Infectious Disease Unit of Venice City Hospital discovered the infectious Zika virus in a cell culture of the patient’s saliva. This finding raises concerns about the human-to-human transmission of the virus via saliva.

The Zika virus is most commonly acquired through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. It was originally thought to be transmissible from human to human only via blood, sexual contact, and from mother to child during delivery. Exposure to the virus causes Zika virus disease, which manifests as fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. Zika virus infection during pregnancy is linked to microcephaly, a serious birth defect.

The Italian researchers found the Zika virus in the woman 6 days after the onset of symptoms, in addition to viral shedding at levels higher than those found in blood 29 days after symptoms were first noted. Their findings were published in the March issue of Eurosurveillance. The researchers note that additional study is necessary to determine the infectivity of the Zika virus in saliva.


From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. April 2016;14(04):14.

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