Ebola virus could lasts in semen for up to 565 days- Study

Ebola virus could lasts in semen for up to 565 days- Study

Thursday, September 1, 2016 1:09 pm

Doctors taking care of an Ebola patient

Doctors taking care of an Ebola patient

Researchers reported on Wednesday in Chicago that the largest analysis yet has found Ebola virus particles present in semen as long as 565 days after recovery from an infection.


Dr Moses Soka, coordinator of the Ebola Virus Disease Survivor Clinical Care at the Liberian Ministry of Health, who worked on the study, said it highlighted the potential role of sex in sparking another outbreak.


He said that the study, published in the Lancet Global Health, involved 429 men seen between July 2015 and May 2016 who were part of the Liberian government’s Men’s Health Screening Programme (MHSP), the first national semen testing programme for Ebola virus.


Soka said of the participants, 38 men tested positive during the study period and within the group, 24 men, or nearly two thirds, had semen samples that tested positive for Ebola fragments a year after recovering from the disease.


“Ebola tended to linger longer in men over age 40, the researchers said.


“In one case, Ebola was detected at least 565 days after a man recovered from his illness,’’ he said.


The coordinator said that before the outbreak, scientists believed that Ebola virus could be found in semen for three months after recovery.


“With this study, we now know that virus may persist for a year or longer.


Soka said that as part of Liberia’s monitoring programme, male survivors aged 15 and older can enroll for monthly tests of their semen.


Dr Thomas Frieden, Director of the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which is collaborating with the ministry, said that the programme provided important insights into how long Ebola remains in semen.


He described it as a key component to preventing flare-ups of the disease and protecting survivors and their loved ones.


“Semen samples in the study were tested for genetic fragments known as the viral RNA, but the tests could not tell if the virus was capable of spreading disease.


The World Health Organisation advised that all male Ebola survivors should be tested three months after the onset of symptoms and then monthly until they know they have no risk of passing on the virus.


For the study the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, collaborated with the Liberian Ministry of Health.


Other partners include the World Health Organization, and the Academic Consortium Combating Ebola in Liberia. (Xinhua/NAN)


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