Ebola Virus Can Persist In Semen Of Male Survivors For Up To 9 Months, Studies Show

News outlets discuss two reports published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine that examine the persistence of Ebola virus in bodily fluids of survivors. One study describes a case of sexually transmitted Ebola in Liberia and another study shows Ebola can be present in male survivors’ semen up to nine months.

Associated Press: Study: Ebola in male survivors can survive up to 9 months
“Doctors have found that Ebola can linger in some male survivors for up to nine months but aren’t sure if that means they might still be infectious, according to new research…” (Cheng, 10/14).

NPR: How Long Can Ebola Linger In The Semen Of Male Survivors?
“…The research is part of a long-term study of Ebola survivors by the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation, which announced this month that it will launch a national program in mid-November to regularly test the semen of male survivors…” (Bichell, 10/14).

Reuters: Ebola survivors can harbor virus in semen for at least nine months
“…In preliminary results that raised questions about how and when the West African epidemic might be brought to an end, researchers said they did not know if the traces of virus that were discovered were live or potentially infectious…” (Kelland/Nebehay, 10/14).

Science: New evidence that parts of Ebola virus hide in semen for months
“…[WHO] guidelines now advise survivors to abstain from sex or use a condom for six months or until their semen tests negative. Given that there are thousands of male survivors who could spread the virus through sex, ‘the chances of seeing sporadic cases igniting small outbreaks is very real,’ says Jonathan Ball, a virologist at the University of Nottingham, in the United Kingdom…” (Kupferschmidt, 10/14).

TIME: We Now Know More About Sexually Transmitted Ebola
“…The CDC says that until more is known about how Ebola can be passed sexually, the over 8,000 male Ebola survivors in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea need to be counseled and undergo regular testing to monitor whether the virus continues to be in their semen. They also need take precautions so as not to infect their partners…” (Sifferlin, 10/14).

VICE News: Ebola Virus Remains in Semen Up to Nine Months After Illness Onset
“…[Education and precautions are] ‘critical because the patient is otherwise well and is going to resume normal activities including sexual intimacies with partners,’ said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University, who was not involved in the study. ‘That can set up transmission of the virus and set up a new chain of transmissions. That’s the time bomb that’s ticking’…” (Lupkin, 10/14).

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