RTI to study whether Zika can be transmitted through coughs, sneezes

Zika virus mosquito
FILE - This 2006 file photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito in the process of acquiring a blood meal from a human host. (James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP, File)

RALEIGH, N.C. –  A local company plans to study whether the Zika virus can be transmitted through the air by coughing or sneezing.

RTI International, based in the Research Triangle, said little research has been done into the possibility that the Zika virus could also be spread through aerosol transmission.

Zika virus transmission is known to be transmitted via Aedes mosquito, when an Aedes mosquito bites an infected person and then transfers it to another person via its saliva glands.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also say a pregnant woman can pass Zika to her fetus. Also, a man can pass the Zika virus to his sex partners.

“Zika is only the latest example of the recurring pattern of new and emerging global health threats,” Jean Kim, Ph.D., research microbiologist at RTI and the project’s principal investigator, said in a statement on the RTI website. “Through our research, we hope to advance our understanding of emerging transmission mechanisms of infectious viruses so we can more easily combat future viruses.”

RTI researchers plan to study  if Zika can survive in respiratory, oral and salivary environments, whether the cells from the oral and respiratory tract allow for propagation, and how long the virus can persist in saliva.

The study will take place over the next three months.

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