Until more information becomes available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging Ebola survivors to abstain from all forms of sex or use condoms every time, rather than for just three months as previously recommended, reports The New York Times.
The revised guidelines come after the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) and Liberia issued similar advice in recent weeks, the report says. Officials were responding to evidence showing “that a Liberian man who recovered from Ebola might have transmitted the virus to his female partner many months later,” the newspaper writes.
From The New York Times:
Ebola genetic material was found in a semen sample the man provided 175 days after he developed symptoms, 74 days longer than ever before found in a survivor. Scientists in Liberia have compared the genetic sequence of the virus found in the woman, Ruth Tugbah, 44, to partial sequences obtained from the virus in her boyfriend’s semen and in blood samples taken months ago from his potential contacts with Ebola, and found that they matched at several key points.
Thus far, the information is consistent with sexual transmission, scientists said, but not conclusive, and the study is continuing. Researchers at the C.D.C. were also trying to establish whether the sample the man provided contained infectious virus, rather than only harmless genetic material or RNA.
Experts said they had expected sexual transmission of Ebola to be rare. It has not yet been proved, but “cannot be ruled out,” the C.D.C. guidance said. Marburg, a similar virus, is thought to have been transmitted sexually. The World Health Organization, the C.D.C. and the Sierra Leone health ministry are planning a study of survivors intended to help establish the range of time that various body fluids, such as semen, urine and breast milk, tend to contain Ebola after it has been cleared from the blood. That time frame has varied in the small number of survivors previously studied.
For more information on Ebola guidelines, visit CDC.gov.
SOURCE: The New York Times | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty