In this vein it is of interest to investigate what illnesses can be contracted through contact with tears. The Zika virus has recently been in the news as an illness that is transferred through mosquitoes. But in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine there was a discussion of an unusual case of the death, in the United States, of a patient with Zika, and how a second patient may have caught the illness from contact with either the patient’s tears or sweat.
About a week after the first man died the second man developed water, red eyes, a common symptom of Zika. After testing for the virus, it was clear the man did, indeed, have Zika. Luckily he recovered with only mild symptoms developing.
The letter in the NEJM discusses two mysteries: Why did the first man die, since deaths from Zika are quite rare; and how did the second man contract the virus? The letter suggests that perhaps unusually high levels of Zika in the first man’s blood explained both the death and the possibility of infected sweat and/or tears.