Following the 2015-2016 Zika outbreak, the virus was found to persist in the semen of infected individuals for months. Until recently, it was unclear how the virus affects the testes. A study published this week suggests that Zika virus infection causes progressive testicular atrophy.
To further understand the effects of Zika infection, the researchers injected mice with Zika virus. Even after clearance from the blood, high levels of viral RNA and antigen were found in the epididymal lumen, where sperm is stored, and in surrounding epithelial cells. 21 days after infection, the testes of Zika-infected mice were significantly smaller than those of control mice. In addition, these mice had reduced levels of serum testosterone, suggesting that male fertility may affected.
Kashef Z. "Zika virus harms testes, says study." Yale News. 2017. news.yale.edu/2017/02/22/zika-virus-harms-testes-says-study
Uraki R, Hwang J, Jurado KA, et al. "Zika causes testicular atrophy." Science Advances. 2017 Feb 22; 3(2):e1602899. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1602889