Zika Virus: Study in Mice Shows Devastating Effects on Male Fertility


According to research, becoming infected with the Zika virus can make men sterile. Science focused on the effects of the virus on fetal development since an infection with Zika during pregnancy can cause abnormalities in the fetal skull and brain.

What Is the Zika Virus?

In most cases, the virus is transmitted through mosquitoes, particularly the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti), which is found in tropical and subtropical regions. However, transmission can also take place through sexual contact or blood transfusions. So far, the virus has been found in saliva, semen, vaginal fluid, urine, blood and breast milk. Typical symptoms include headache, joint and muscle pain as well as rash, fever and conjunctivitis.

Destroyed Testes and Lower Sperm Count

The Zika virus had caused a complete destruction of the internal structure. The mice were monitored for up to six weeks. During this time, the testes did not recover – even after the virus had been completely removed from the rodents’ blood. The fertility of the mice also declined. The number of motile sperm was reduced tenfold, and the decrease in testosterone levels was equally drastic. When the researchers bred healthy mouse females with both healthy and infected males, the mice that bred with infected males were four times less likely to become pregnant. Even if there is no 100% certainty, the scientists assume that the damage caused by the virus is permanent. According to the researchers, there is hardly another virus that can cause such serious infertility symptoms since very few microbes are able to pass the barrier between the bloodstream and the testes and attack the testes directly.



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