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Coronavirus found in semen of young men
Published on: 2020-05-12
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An electron microscope image shows the spherical particles of the new coronavirus colorized blue from the first U.S. case of COVID 19An electron microscope image shows the spherical particles of the new coronavirus, colorized blue, from the first U.S. case of COVID-19

The new coronavirus can persist in men's semen even after they have begun to recover, a finding that raises the possibility the virus could be sexually transmitted, Chinese researchers said Thursday.

semen 01A team at Shangqiu Municipal Hospital tested 38 male patients treated there at the height of the pandemic in China, in January and February.
 

About 16% of them had evidence of the coronavirus in their semen. About a quarter of them were in the acute stage of infection and nearly 9% of them were recovering, the team reported.
 

"We found that SARS-CoV-2 can be present in the semen of patients with COVID-19, and SARS-CoV-2 may still be detected in the semen of recovering patients," Diangeng Li of Chinese People's Liberation Army General Hospital in Beijing and colleagues wrote.

semen 02"Even if the virus cannot replicate in the male reproductive system, it may persist, possibly resulting from the privileged immunity of testes," the team added. Privileged immunity means the immune system cannot fully reach the region to attack viral invaders.
 

It's not a surprising finding. Many viruses can live in the male reproductive tract. Ebola and Zika virus were both found to spread in semen, sometimes months after a male patient had recovered.
 

It's not yet clear if coronavirus can spread this way. Finding evidence of virus does not necessarily mean it's infectious.
 

新冠病毒能在精液中存活

在新冠疫情大流行期间,男性睾丸或被认为是新冠病毒的潜在攻击目标。最近中国科研团队发现新冠病毒可以存在于男性的精液中。此前科学家已经在唾液、尿液和粪便中检测到这种病毒。
 

由解放军总医院第八医学中心赵卫国博士和河南商丘市立医院张世玺医生撰写的相关论文,5月7日发表在对外开放的医学期刊《美国医学会杂志•网络开放》(JAMA Network Open)上,但是由于研究人员无法确认他们所发现的病毒是活病毒还是病毒残留的片段,因此对于新冠病毒是否可以通过性传播未给出明确答案。
 

在河南商丘市立医院,医生对38名男性患者的精液进行检测发现,新冠病毒检测均呈阳性。受试者的年龄从15岁到59岁不等。研究人员在6名患者的精液中检测到了新冠病毒的基因物质,占比达16%,其中4名患者的精液样本显示,其处于“急性感染期”。
 

上述精液阳性患者中有两名患者正处于康复阶段。研究人员认为,这值得特别引起警惕,一名男子自首次出现症状后的第16天,仍在精液中检测到新冠病毒。
 

此前浙大医学院的研究结果表明,新冠患者可能出现超长排毒期,呼吸道排毒期中位数为18天,粪便排毒周期更长,男性的排毒期长于女性。论文同时指出,尚无法证明新冠病毒可以通过性行为传播。同时,关于新冠病毒的脱落、存活时间、精液中的浓度等方面的详细信息还有待进一步的研究。

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