New Zika case may mean infection can be passed on through tears or sweat, say US doctors


Doctors in Utah, in the United States, are reporting that the Zika virus may be able to be passed on via tears or sweat, after a recent unusual case of infection has come to light.

This possibility has arisen after a 38-year-old man has apparently been infected with the virus at his father's hospital bedside, according to a paper in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The precise details of how this transmission occurred has not been documented, but puzzled researchers suggest that the man may have contracted Zika by touching his infected dad's tears or sweat with his bare hands. The theory is that this unusual transmission method was likely caused by his dying father having 100,000 times the normal level of the virus.

What we know about Zika infection

Usually Zika infection occurs by a mosquito bite. However, there are other ways in which it is, rarely, possible to become infected:

  • Through having sex with a person who is infected with Zika virus.
  • Through blood donation from a person who is infected with Zika virus. (In the UK, people who have travelled to countries with Zika virus cannot give blood for 28 days to prevent this happening.)
  • Through the placenta. It seems to be possible for pregnant mothers to pass the virus on to babies in the womb (uterus).

Read more about the Zika virus


News sources:

1. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/29/mystery-zika-virus-utah-may-spread-through-sweat-tears

2. http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2016/09/28/Utah-doctors-say-Zika-may-be-passed-on-through-tears-sweat/9471475107478/

3. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc1610613?query=featured_home&