Zika has been identified in the saliva and urine of two patients infected by the virus, a leading Brazilian health institute said, adding that further studies are needed to determine if those fluids could transmit the infection.

Scientists at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, a public health institute, said they used genetic testing to identify the virus in samples from two patients while they had symptoms and were known to have Zika, the mosquito-borne viral infection that has sparked a global health scare.

It is the first time the virus has been detected in saliva and urine, scientists told reporters in Rio de Janeiro.

The virus was deemed active, meaning that it was able to cause infection, but the scientists stressed that it was too early to say whether Zika could be transmitted by either fluid.

“That fact that the virus was found with the capacity to cause infection is not proof that it can contaminate other people through those fluids,” said Myrna Bonaldo, one of the scientists who made the discovery.

Fiocruz, as the foundation is informally known, made the discovery after analysing samples from two patients and carrying out a partial genome sequencing of the virus, said Paulo Gadelha, president of the foundation.

The discovery adds to concern that Zika, which is predominantly spread by the Aedis aegypti mosquito, could also be transmitted by other means, particularly sex.

Scientists are researching reports earlier this week that an American had transmitted the virus to a sexual partner in Dallas County, Texas.

Also, Brazilian health officials said on Thursday they had confirmed two cases of transmission through blood transfusions.

The ongoing outbreak of Zika infections, which has been linked to more than 4,000 suspected cases of a birth defect in Brazil, started in Brazil’s Northeast and has since spread and been locally transmitted in more than 30 countries, according to the World Health Organization.

Though presence of the Zika virus has been identified in 17 cases of babies with microcephaly, as the condition is known, there is no solid proof that the virus causes it.

Babies with microcephaly have abnormally small heads and often have underdeveloped brains.

More on this topic

Mosquitoes carrying bacteria aimed at reducing Zika transmission to be releasedMosquitoes carrying bacteria aimed at reducing Zika transmission to be released

Irish women with 'super-dooper' immune systems could hold key to Zika vaccineIrish women with 'super-dooper' immune systems could hold key to Zika vaccine

Florida finds Zika in trapped mosquitoes for first timeFlorida finds Zika in trapped mosquitoes for first time

41 cases of Zika have been confirmed in Singapore41 cases of Zika have been confirmed in Singapore


Lifestyle

A host of Irish and international writers will read on Leeside, writes Marjorie Brennan.The eight must-sees of Cork Short Story festival

He has helped numerous couples blossom on their big day and florist and wedding specialist Peter Tora had no shortage ofexperience in planning his own nuptial celebration with Brendan O’Sullivan, writes Eve Kelliher.Wedding of the week: Love blossoms for florist Peter and his groom Brendan

The demands of daily life do not cease upon diagnosis of cancer, says social worker Denis Spillane, who works with cancer patients of the Mercy University Hospital, and says financial worries add to their stress.Making Cents: The financial cost of a cancer diagnosis

In January of 1994, RTÉ reporter Tommie Gorman was given a diagnosis that would change his life.Examine Yourself: Getting cancer made sense of everything for Tommie Gorman

More From The Irish Examiner