Brazilian scientists says they have detected the presence of the Zika virus in samples of human saliva and urine, a first for Brazil. The samples came from two patients with Zika-like symptoms; one was found to have the virus in urine, the other had Zika in the saliva sample. It remains unclear whether the tiny sample size was enough to produce solid conclusions. Researchers warn that the virus might have the potential to spread through kissing or urine, but are quick to point out that this still remains to be proved. A potential upside to Friday’s revelation could involve developing urine tests as a diagnostic tool. Researcher:
It is something we have to further investigate. We are not yet sure if Zika can be transmitted to others [through saliva or urine].
By March 2015 the virus appears in two more Brazilian states, then reaches Salvador, a city of 2.5 million. Doctors speculate that the symptoms are the result of an allergy; that it was roseola, a childhood illness; that it was a new variant of Fifth Disease, a facial rash that gives children a “slapped-cheek” look. Dr Soares, a biologist:
People were claiming it was polluted water. I began thinking it was something transmitted by mosquitoes.
Working in his modest lab with a colleague, Dr. Soares tests thousands blood samples. Other doctors are doing the same. Over 6,800 samples are tested from victims ranging from 4 months to 98 years old. Parvovirus, dengue, chikungunya and other suspects are all ruled out, leaving Zika as the cause in April. Dr Soares:
I actually felt a sense of relief. The literature said it was much less aggressive than viruses we already deal with in Brazil.