Journal of Infectious Diseases, February 13, 2020

Ralph Huits, Birgit De Smet, Gilda Grard, Kaat Eggermont, Catherine Minto-Bain, Natalie Jess, Isabelle Leparc‑Goffart, Denis Malvy, Lieselotte Cnops


Persistence of Zika virus (ZIKV) RNA in semen is common after infection. We designed a RT-PCR assay that targets antisense ZIKV RNA (asRNA) to assess ZIKV replication competence in ZIKV RNA positive semen samples.

We detected ZIKV asRNA in semen of nine of nineteen men (47.4%) diagnosed with ZIKV infection. All asRNA positive samples had high ZIKV loads (Ct-values <26) and were obtained within 21 days of symptom onset. The sensitivity of the asRNA assay for detection of ZIKV replication was higher than that of conventional virus isolation methods (47.4% vs. 21.1%, p-value 0.032).

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