Doctors in Spain have recorded the first ever case of dengue virus to be transmitted through sexual contact.
A 41-year-old man from Madrid contracted the dengue virus after having sex with his male partner. The man’s partner had been exposed to the virus on a trip to Cuba, according to health officials from Madrid Public Health Department.
According to The Telegraph, the man was confirmed to be positive for dengue in September, however officials couldn’t initially ascertain how he had contracted the virus, as he did not reside in an area which was known to have reported cases of the fever before. Doctors also ruled out that he contracted the infection from travelling to an area known to be a hotspot for the virus.
It was later narrowed down to the possibility of having been transmitted sexually from his partner.
"His partner presented the same symptoms as him but lighter around ten days earlier, and he had previously visited Cuba and the Dominican Republic. An analysis of their sperm was carried out and it revealed that not only did they have dengue but that it was exactly the same virus which circulates in Cuba,” said Susana Jiminez, a health official from Spain to the media.
Dengue fever which is caused by one of five strains of the dengue virus has only been known to be passed to humans via the bite of an infected mosquito. This is the first ever instance to be reported of the virus spreading through sexual contact.
Dengue fever is caused by one of the five serotypes (strains) of the virus. Typically, the Aedes Aegypti mosquito is the vector which transmits the virus to humans via a bite. The incubation period following exposure to the virus is anywhere between 3 to 5 days. The most commonly seen symptoms of dengue are high-grade fever, joint pain, muscle pain and general fatigue. There is no mainstream vaccine against the virus, as a result of which treatment is largely based on controlling the symptoms an individual has.
Currently, scientists are working on figuring out how to develop a vaccine against the virus which would protect an individual against all four strains of the virus. In 2017, a vaccine that had been developed by Sanofi Pasteur was available for people who had already contracted dengue. It was said that the vaccine wasn’t suitable for anyone who had not yet had the infection as it was likely that they may get a severe form of dengue. It had been approved in the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) at the time only to children between the ages of 9 and 16. In order to get the vaccine, proof of dengue infection had to be submitted.
With regards to the availability of such a vaccine in India, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had stated in September that a partial roll-out of vaccines may be tested from 2020 onwards in the country.