Kissing cannot spread Zika, a government study has confirmed.
The virus lingers in the blood stream and saliva for up to about two weeks after infection, and remains in bodily fluids like semen for months.
While studies have proved the virus can be transmitted sexually, scientists were not sure if casual contact like kissing or sharing a fork could be dangerous.
Now, researchers commissioned by the National Institutes of Health have assured that a kiss is not off-limits to sufferers.
The study was a bid to understand a mysterious case of Zika transmission last year, when an elderly man somehow passed the virus to his caretaker son in Utah - ruling out the standard causes of mosquitoes and sexual activity.
The virus lingers in the blood stream and saliva for up to two weeks after infection, and remains in fluids like semen for months. But NIH scientists confirm a kiss is not dangerous
According to researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who conducted studies with monkeys, casual contact like kissing or sharing a fork or spoon is not enough for the virus to move between hosts.
Their findings were published today in the journal Nature Communications.
Mosquito bites are still the source of most Zika virus infections in people.
'If passing the virus by casual contact were easy, I think we would see a lot more of what we would call secondary transmission in a place like the United States,' Dr Tom Friedrich, a virology professor at the university's School of Veterinary Medicine, said.
'But we're not seeing clinically apparent spread of Zika throughout the continental U.S. without the presence of the mosquitoes that carry the virus, and our study helps to put into context some of the transmission risk.'
Last week, Texas public health authorities announced a case of Zika virus infection likely caused by a mosquito bite.
The saliva study was funded by the National Institutes of Health in 2016 amid uncertainty about other potential ways Zika could spread between people.
The researchers used saliva collected from rhesus macaque monkeys at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, who were