3 Months After Ebola Infection the Semen of Survivors Remains Infectious
Geneva – The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends men who have survived the Ebola infection should abstain from sex for at least three months or to use condoms. Some studies have shown that seminal fluid could contain the Ebola virus possibly up to three months, the UN agency said on Friday. But there is no need to isolate former Ebola patients, according to the WHO.
The WHO noted that it was purely a precautionary measure, since the few studies on the risk of infection by semen are inconclusive. One study that followed four men recovering from Ebola virus disease and their sexual partners found that no sexual partner developed symptoms. A 1999 study concluded that possibly a partner of a former Ebola patient had been infected during sex – but the woman did not show any symptoms and in their blood only antibodies against the Ebola virus were detectable. However, this was the only possible case of transmission.
During a study of a man who had been infected in 2000 in Uganda, scientist were able to isolate Ebola virus up to 40 days after the onset of illness. In a 1995 study of an Ebola patient from the Democratic Republic of Congo detected live Ebola virus in semen in one convalescent man 82 days after disease onset. Therefore, it is possible for Ebola virus to be present in semen for 3 months after disease onset.
Nearly 16,000 Cases
According to WHO, nearly 16,000 people are currently affected with Ebola infection in the current outbreak, almost 5,700 of them have died. The real figure is high. In Guinea, 148 new cases during the week of November 17 to 23 have been reported. In Liberia, 67 people have been infected, but the situation is stabilized in both countries, according to the WHO. In Sierra Leone, however, the disease is still spreading rapidly, there have been 385 new Ebola cases during the same period.
The President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, had many local authorities close all businesses for three days in the capital Freetown again on Friday. This further economic damage to the West African country should be prevented, said the head of state. According to World Bank estimates, the Ebola epidemic until the end of 2015 cost the poor country around 32 billion dollars (25.6 billion euros).
The Mayor of Freetown, Sam Franklyn Gibson had arranged on Thursday to close all shops and markets from last Friday until Sunday. Only pharmacies were allowed to remain open. Gibson also encouraged the population to wear long-sleeved clothing and avoid physical contact with other people to help curb the spread of Ebola infections.