Seed money: Zika-laden semen earns infected men $50 from CDC

© Lucy Nicholson
Zika-infected men in the US have just been offered an easy $50. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is trying to learn more about the sexual spread of the mosquito-borne virus, by asking men with Zika to provide semen samples.

The CDC is looking to expand their Zika semen sample size. After two months of trying to recruit men with Zika, they collected samples from 40 men. But the CDC hopes to bring in another 210 men by sweetening the deal.

In exchange for a sample, the CDC is offered a $50 gift card with no specific uses. Additionally, the agency is also looking to make sample collection easier by sending a courier to pick up “donations” and delivering them to the CDC’s lab in Fort Collins, Colorado.

While Congress may have skirted doing their part to fight the spread of Zika, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is looking to learn more about the virus that, prior to 2015, was rarely mentioned.
Since February, the CDC has known that the virus can be spread sexually even after the host stops showing symptoms. But the question of how long the virus remains in the body remains unanswered.

For the time being, US health authorities have advised that men diagnosed with the Zika virus only have sex with a condom for six months. In March, the CDC’s guidelines explained that “Semen collected from a third man with Zika virus infection had virus particles … at 62 days after fever onset.

Much remains to be learned about the virus, but the epidemic is not waiting for anyone to figure find a solution. The number of Zika cases has nearly quadrupled since May, Gizmodo reported.