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Zika Virus Detected in Body Fluids


A medical researcher works on results of tests for various diseases, including Zika, at the Gorgas Memorial laboratory Panama City, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

A medical researcher works on results of tests for various diseases, including Zika, at the Gorgas Memorial laboratory Panama City, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)


Brazilian scientists have detected the Zika virus in urine and saliva samples of two infected patients.

But, they said, more study is needed to find out whether the virus can infect by exchanging body fluids.

Myrna Bonaldo, one of the scientists who made the discovery, told Reuters that it “is not proof" that the virus "can contaminate other people through those fluids.”

Earlier this week, health officials in Brazil confirmed two cases of Zika virus in blood transfusions. And health officials in the U.S. reported what may be the first case of the virus being transmitted in the United States by sexual contact.

Myrna Bonaldo, Chief of Molecular Biology Laboratory of Brazil’s Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil’s premier state-run research institute for tropical diseases, speaks at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016.

Myrna Bonaldo, Chief of Molecular Biology Laboratory of Brazil’s Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil’s premier state-run research institute for tropical diseases, speaks at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016.

The Zika virus gets its name from a forest in Uganda where the virus was first identified in 1947. The virus is known to exist in tropical areas like Africa, the Americas, southern Asia and western Pacific.

People can catch the Zika virus after being bitten by an infected Aedes mosquito. This is the same mosquito that can spread dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.

In the latest Zika virus outbreak, Brazil reported the first case in May 2015. The World Health Organization (WHO) said that the Zika virus could be linked to 4,000 suspected cases of microcephaly in Brazil. Microcephaly is when babies are born with small heads. It causes severe brain damage.

Since then, the virus has spread by mosquitoes and has caused infections in Brazil, many Latin America countries, Europe and the U.S.

On Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the Pacific islands of Tonga and American Samoa also reported new cases of virus infections.

Health workers get ready to spray insecticide to combat the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that transmits the Zika virus under the bleachers of the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,

Health workers get ready to spray insecticide to combat the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that transmits the Zika virus under the bleachers of the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,

With the spread of the mosquito-borne virus, the WHO declared a global health emergency Monday. The declaration provided more money and resources to fight the virus. But the health agency ruled out a ban on travel or trade in affected areas.

At this time, there is no treatment or vaccine for the Zika virus. But drug companies in India, Japan and France announced that they are working to develop possible vaccines.

Dr. Anthony Fauci is director of the U.S. National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). He said it would take "a few years" before a vaccine is readily available to the public.

For now, Fauci said the way to fight the disease is "mosquito control."

I'm Anne Ball.

Hai Do wrote this story for Learning English with additional materials from VOA News and Reuters. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

contaminate - v. to make something dangerous, dirty, or impure

blood transfusion - n. a medical treatment in which someone's blood is put into the body of another person

transmitted - v. to give to or pass

tropical - adj. of, relating to or used in warmer climates

outbreak - n. a sudden increase in the number of reports of a disease

global - adj. involving the whole world

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