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Scientists Discover That Dengue Fever Could Be Transmitted Sexually

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Scientists Discover That Dengue Fever Could Be Transmitted Sexually

Scientists have discovered that the tropical illness dengue fever could be transmitted sexually.

The new discovery comes after scientists in Italy tested the semen of a man who picked up the mosquito-borne illness while on holiday in Thailand.

This means that there could be a chance of transmitting the virus sexually even after the person carrying the virus has got better.

Dengue fever is usually relatively harmless - most people develop flu-type symptoms like a fever (obviously) as well as headaches, muscle aches, and joint pain. However, certain cases can develop into severe dengue, which can be fatal.

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The good news is that only between one and two percent of these cases actually become severe, but the bad news is that there is no known cure.

If you like in the UK you are likely to be fine, but if you are travelling to Asia, Africa, Australia, the Caribbean, or Central and South America, watch out.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

The man who was found to be carrying the virus in his semen was in his 50s and had been travelling in Thailand back at the beginning of this year.

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He suffered the flu-type symptoms and was looked after by the Italian Institute for Infectious Diseases, but after 23 days the virus could no longer be found in his blood and urine.

However, two weeks later the scientists found traces of the dengue virus in his semen, meaning that for the first time it has been considered that it could be sexually transmitted long after the effects of the virus have gone.

Writing in the infectious disease journal Eurosurveillance, the scientists said: "To our knowledge, the presence and persistence of DENV [dengue fever] in the male genital tract has never been reported so far.

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"Our findings highlight the possibility of sexual transmission of DENV that could play a role in the spreading of infection in non-endemic areas.

"However, no such events have been reported to date despite that fact that in 2016 alone, 2,601 travel-associated dengue cases were reported to The European Surveillance System at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control."

Dengue is usually transmitted by mosquitos. The insects bite people who have the virus, then bite someone without it, transmitting it to them.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA
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It isn't unusual to find cases of Dengue in tourist spots. There have been recent outbreaks in places like North Queensland, Australia, and the Canary Islands.

The real trick to not catching it is to not get bitten by mosquitos. You can lower the risk do that by wearing loose clothing or using bug spray to keep them away from you.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Science, Asia, Thailand, illness, Italy

Tom Wood
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