Zika and sperm – a new concern
- Zika can remain in semen for several months;
- men who donated semen may not have shown signs or symptoms of Zika yet they could have been infected with the virus;
- semen is not tested for Zika, unlike blood and tissue donations.
Therefore, it is possible that an infected man may have unknowingly donated semen contaminated with the Zika virus.
Where is the risk?
Although the Zika virus has been identified in Miami-Dade County, the risk of it spreading to other neighboring areas is possible, since individuals in this part of the state often travel to and from Broward and Palm Beach counties.
CDC says “This analysis has led to CDC identifying that since June 15, 2016, there has been a potential increased Zika risk for residents in Broward and Palm Beach counties because of local travel to areas of active transmission in Florida and challenges associated with defining sources of exposure.” The increased risk in the overall numbers of people exposed to the virus means that donor sperm may be at risk, too.
What does this mean to women trying to become pregnant by donor sperm?
Semen contains sperm, which is necessary for a woman to become pregnant. Although the risk of Zika transmission is small, if a woman wishes to become pregnant or currently is pregnant by donor sperm from these areas in Florida, she should speak with her healthcare provider. There have not been any confirmed cases of the Zika virus infecting a pregnant woman from donor sperm, but the possibility exists that it could occur.
The CDC emphasizes that Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause brain problems, microcephaly, and congenital Zika syndrome, a pattern of conditions in the baby that includes brain abnormalities, eye defects, hearing loss, and limb defects.
The CDC website offers detailed guidance for people living or traveling to South Florida.
Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.