Ebola Survivors – Sheath up and protect your partner
A new dimension to Ebola transmission has been discovered after a Liberian woman reportedly contracted Ebola through sex with a man who had contracted the disease. Semen tests of the man revealed the presence of the virus in his semen, five months after his recovery from the disease.
This is quite shocking especially since such a transmission was previously thought to be highly unlikely. Although Ebola was known to persist in semen longer than other bodily fluids, it was thought that three months was a long enough recovery period to prevent transmission.
However, according to a paper in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the woman who became infected had no other known potential sources of transmission, and genetic sequencing of the virus that infected her showed mutations that matched those from the man’s semen, while being different from other recent cases.
Besides raising new possibilities for further outbreaks, an unfortunate aspect of this discovery is that it may encourage stigmatization of Ebola survivors. During the peak of the outbreak, survivors reported being shunned, despite the fact that their hard-won immunity in fact made them a potential barrier to the further spread of the disease. Also, it raises concerns for the World Health Organisation that now has the uphill task of mitigating the sexual transmission of the disease as well.
As a result, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have warned the public that the Ebola virus may survive in semen long after it is undetectable in other bodily fluids, giving a new dimension to the deadly disease. As a consequence, it is advisable that Ebola survivors use condoms even after recovery until more is known about the transmission through this mechanism.
This articles is based on materials provided by IFLScience.