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Zika virus found inside spermatozoa

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Spermatozoa infected by Zika virus (green; arrowhead)

The Zika virus has been shown to be present in semen for as long as 6 months. However, recent work by Martin-Blondel et al  of the Infectious and Tropical Diseases Department of Toulouse University Hospital are the first to demonstrate the presence of the Zika virus in sperm. What is facinating is that in their index case the “ Zika virus was found to be present in all sperm samples only up to the 37th day. Beyond that point, the virus was found only in the semen, where it persisted for over 130 days.”

 

Implications of this does not change the recommendations for use of a barrier contraceptive however does support the use of washed sperm in in vitro fertilization sooner than 6 months after male exposure to the Zika virus. It also gives more impetus to test sperm donations for the Zika virus in fertility clinics. http://bit.ly/2cYlhrF

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bgilbert

ZIKA Alert: Should Men be Banking Sperm?

A Liquid Nitrogen refrigerator containing sperm and eggs samples. High tech lab equipment used in the in vitro fertilization process.

A Liquid Nitrogen refrigerator containing sperm and eggs samples. High tech lab equipment used in the in vitro fertilization process.

As a specialist in male fertility and owner/director of a sperm bank (http://NYCryo.com) , I have been increasingly asked this question by my colleagues and patients over the past several weeks. Interest in the Zika has been ignited recently by news coverage of celebrities including Pau Gasol of the Chicago Bulls talking about freezing his sperm in the Washington post (http://wapo.st/293BkUP) ….if he even decides to go to the Olympic games. In fact, golf greats like Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy together with Basketball legends LeBron James and Stephen Curry have pulled out of the  games entirely (http://wapo.st/293Cob5, http://wapo.st/29g036u) while others like Jordan Spieth are weighing their options (http://wapo.st/293DG5U). To add to this concern, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) had issued warnings earlier this year on travel for pregnant women and continue to monitor/update their recommendations (http://bit.ly/29ewocX) . In this brief blog I will try to provide a well referenced overview of what is known about the Zika virus to help you decide what is best for you and your future family. A great review article on Zika virus in pregnancy can be found at http://bit.ly/29dWhfn .

 

First the facts provided by the CDC (http://1.usa.gov/294JyZ0) .

  • A man with Zika virus can pass it to his female or male sex partners through their semen….even if they have never had symptoms. In addition, Zika viral RNA level were higher in semen samples then in blood urine or saliva (http://bit.ly/29dkujA) .
  • Using condoms or delaying sex can reduce the risk of getting Zika from sex…however it is not known where saliva or vaginal fluids can pass the virus on.
  • Zika virus RNA has been detected in semen up to 62 days after the onset of symptoms (http://bit.ly/299BJBd) . CDC therefore recommends that men who have been diagnosed with Zika should consider using condoms or not having sex for at least 6 months.

 

It is clear from these statements that we need to know much more about how the Zika virus. In particular, how the virus is transmitted and even more about the longevity of the virus in the human host. So how should men interested in their future fertility protect themselves? Should they bank their sperm as Pau Gasol believes one should? That question is not a simple one to answer given the paucity of data presently available on the Zika virus. Many questions remain before a definitive answer can be given. In fact, there are more questions then there are answers.

  1. Should all pregnant couples be screened for the Zika virus and what exactly should be tested? One problem is that not also tests are as sensitive and many correctly performed tests yield incorrect results (http://n.pr/299L93j) .
  2. What are the best methods to test for the ZiKa virus (http://bit.ly/29kyR9s) ? There are most sensitive test is the Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction which tests for the presence of a piece of the virus. However, it is only positive for 1 to at most 4 weeks after the virus is in the host. The Zika MAC-ELISA is a better test which detects the virus for up to 12 weeks after exposure. However, the possibility still exists that the virus is present after this time but just not detectable.
  3. Should pregnant women have screening during pregnancy and if so at what frequency? Although there are recommendations for screening during pregnancy (http://bit.ly/29kyyeT) who to handle positive results is still evolving.
  4. Does screening guarantee the absence of virus RNA (http://bit.ly/29kyR9s) ? The answer is no. In addition, since screening is usually done on symptomatic individuals and the Zika virus can be asymptomatic in a large number of men, we would need to screen all men considering conceiving with their partner…which is not practical or even possible.
  5. What fluid type should be screened? Cerebrospinal fluid, blood, urine, saliva and semen all seem to have the virus in them…however, which is the best to test is not yet known.
  6. Does the virus directly affect the sperm or egg cell or the genetic material in these cells is also not yet known. However the FDA has imposed restrictions (http://bit.ly/29p4fAF)  on the freezing of sperm and eggs (oocytes) from men and/or women that have had:
    1. A diagnosis of Zika in the past 6 months
    2. A residence, in or travel to, an area with active Zika transmission within the past 6 months
    3. Sex within the past 6 months with a partner who is known to have lived, traveled, or has been diagnosed with Zika in the past 6 months?

 

Men have been banking sperm prior to therapy that might affect their fertility as well as a protection form hazards to their reproductive health from their occupation. It is therefore entirely appropriate for them to bank sperm prior to travel to an area known to have the Zika virus. However, as discussed above, even if they undergo testing for the Zika virus prior to freezing sperm there is no guarantee that the specimen stored is free of the virus from possible prior exposure. In addition, sexual relations with their partner anytime during the 6 months after their return from an area endemic for the Zika virus might predispose their partner to the infection. No easy answers at this time…..just more questions.

 

 

 

 

 

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bgilbert

Zika Virus and Sperm Banking: What you need to know

The Aedes aegypti mosquito in action.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito in action.

In May 2015 the Pan American Health Organization issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil.   In less than a year, the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern.

Although the first human cases of Zika virus were detected in 1947, the outbreaks were limited to tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Currently there is renewed concern about this disease due to its recent association with birth defects, with reports of Zika transmission through sexual activity, as well as with the spread of Zika virus to the US.  In addition, the potential for this disease to be transmitted through blood and semen has resulted in the FDA’s recent guidance to the Blood and tissue banking industry.

In this post we present an overview of what we know and the recommendations that have been made by the FDA.

What is Zika?

Zika is a virus that is transmitted to humans by a mosquito (Aedes Aegypti/Aedes Albopictus). The time between exposure to the Zika virus and infection is not known but is thought to be a few days to a week or so. Most people that have the disease don’t have symptoms. In those that do, the most common symptoms of the Zika virus infection are fever, joint pain, rash, headache, and conjunctivitis. Less frequently observed symptoms include digestive problems, abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation, mucous membrane ulcerations, and itchiness.  Some cases of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (ascending paralysis) have been associated with Zika virus.

It is important to emphasize that 80% of the patients infected with Zika are asymptomatic (without symptoms) and may not be aware that they carry the disease. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.

Babies born from mothers infected with Zika virus appear to have a risk of being born with smaller sized heads (Microcephaly).

Transmission

The following is a list of the reported means of transmission:

  • Mosquito bites – The risks of being infected by a mosquito bite includes traveling to areas where the virus is known to exist. Please refer to the CDC website for a complete list of these countries. http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html
  • Sexual transmission – There have been reported cases where the virus has been sexually transmitted by an infected partner (by a man to his sex partners).
  • Transfusion-transmission – There are possible cases that have been described in Brazil. These reports are currently being investigated.
  • Mother to child – Infected pregnant women can pass on the virus to their fetus during the pregnancy and during delivery to their newborn.

Zika virus has been found in semen at least 2 weeks and possibly up to 10 weeks after the illness onset. The virus is present in semen longer than in blood, but the persistence of Zika in the semen remains unknown.

There is therefore a risk for transmission of Zika Virus by HCT/Ps (Humans Cells, Tissues, and Cellular and Tissue-Based Products), which include, among others, corneas, bone, skin, heart valves, hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HPCs) from cord blood and peripheral blood, and reproductive tissues such as semen and oocytes. However, this is presently based on limited information.

What are the FDA recommendations for Sperm and Blood donors including mothers who donate their umbilical cord blood to public banks?

FDA’s guidance suggest that donors should be considered ineligible if they have any of the following risk factors:

  1. Medical Diagnosis of Zika virus infection in the past 6 months.
  2. Residence in, or travel to, an area with active Zika virus transmission within the past 6 months.
  3. Sex within the past 6 months with a male who is known to have either the risk factors listed in the items 1 or 2 above.

Additionally, donors of umbilical cord blood, placenta, or other gestational tissues should be considered ineligible if the birth mother who seeks to donate gestational tissues has any of the following risk factors:

  1. Medical diagnosis of Zika infection at any point during that pregnancy.
  2. Residence in, or travel to, an area with active Zika transmission at any point during that pregnancy.
  3. Sex at any point during that pregnancy with a male who is known to have either of the risk factors listed in items 1 or 2, above.

What should I do if I think I have symptoms of Zika Virus?

Contact your healthcare provider if you develop the symptoms described above and have visited an area where Zika is found. If you have recently traveled, tell your healthcare provider when and where you traveled.

Can I be tested for the Zika virus?

Your healthcare provider my order a blood tests to look for Zika virus infection.

FDA has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for a diagnostic tool for Zika virus that will be distributed to qualified laboratories and, in the United States, those that are certified to perform high-complexity tests.

http://www.cdc.gov/zika/hc-providers/diagnostic.html

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bgilbert

We are now an AIUM Accredited Ultrasound Practice!

PrintThe Ultrasound Practice Accreditation Council of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) has awarded us with ultrasound practice accreditation in the area of Urologic Ultrasound.

We have achieved this recognition by meeting rigorous voluntary guidelines set by the diagnostic ultrasound profession. All facets of the practice were assessed, including the training and qualifications of physicians and sonographers; ultrasound equipment maintenance; documentation; storage, and record-keeping practices; policies and procedures to protect patients and staff; quality assurance methods; and the thoroughness, technical quality and interpretation of the sonograms the pracitice performs.

The AIUM is a multidisciplinary medical association of more than 9900 physicians, sonographers, and scientists dedicated to advancing the safe and effective use of ultrasound in medicine through professional and public education, research, development of guidelines and accreditation.

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bgilbert

Patient Brochures (English and Spanish)

These brochures are provided for our patients and offer answers to frequently asked questions. If you would like additional topics covered in future brochures please let us know. – Estos folletos se proporcionan para nuestros pacientes y ofrecen respuestas a las preguntas más frecuentes . Si desea consultar otros temas tratados en futuros folletos por favor sepamos .

  1. Preserving you fertility: Questions and Answers on Sperm Banking
  2. ¿Qué es preservar la fertilidad?: Preguntas y respuestas sobre el Banco de Esperma
  3. Semen Analysis: What you need to know
  4. Análisis del semen : Lo que usted necesita saber

Questions and further Information Please call: 516-487-2700 – Preguntas y más información por favor llame al: 516-487-2700

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