Dengue fever, a tropical illness caused by mosquito bites could be passed on through sex, a study has found.
For the first time scientists have found the virus that causes the fever in the semen of a man, more than a month after he fell ill while travelling in Thailand.
The virus lingering in a person’s semen has led researchers to think the condition could be passed on during sex even after the person has recovered.
Although adults usually only have mild flu-like symptoms such as a headache, fever and muscle or joint pain, between one and two per cent of dengue fever cases progress to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
There is currently no cure for the virus but it isn’t naturally found in the UK.
It is most commonly caught by people travelling to hotter climates such as southeast Asia, Africa, Australia, the Caribbean and South and Central America.
The study, published in journal Eurosurveillance, documented the case of an Italian man in his 50s diagnosed with dengue fever after returning from Thailand in January.
He was otherwise healthy but suffered from joint pain, fatigue and nausea during the illness.
The man was admitted to the National Institute for Infectious Diseases in Rome after feeling ill for nine days.
He recovered and traces of the virus had disappeared from his blood and urine after 23 days, but it was still present in his semen after 37 days. All traces had disappeared from his body by day 55.
The discovery led scientists to think the virus could be transmitted by sexual intercourse, in the same way the ZIKA virus is known to do.