No Sex for Male Ebola Survivors, Says WHO

Health org says virus could stay in semen for 3 months
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 28, 2014 10:04 AM CST
No Sex for Male Ebola Survivors, Says WHO
This undated handout photo issued by Save the Children UK on Nov. 5, 2014, shows prospective health care workers being tested on their personal protection equipment procedure in Sierra Leone.   (AP Photo, Louis Leeson/Save the Children UK)

There hasn't been one documented case of Ebola being transmitted via sex yet, but the World Health Organization advises that male survivors of the virus refrain from sexual relations (including oral sex) for 90 days after being declared Ebola-free, Reuters reports. "Men who have recovered from Ebola virus disease should be aware that seminal fluid may be infectious for as long as three months after onset of symptoms," the WHO said in a statement this morning. The group also recommends that at-risk survivors use condoms if they decide to have sex anyway, and to "maintain good personal hygiene" after taking care of business via masturbation. The CDC suggests similar preventive measures on its own site.

Dr. Daniel Bausch tells the New York Times that transmitting the disease before symptoms emerge seems "extremely, extremely, extremely, extremely unlikely," and the Times notes that though 20 outbreaks have occurred worldwide since 1976, "sexual transmission of Ebola has not been definitively established," per the CDC. Even though the virus persists longer in semen than in blood or other bodily fluids, it was at barely detectable levels in the small sample of men who've been studied because the testicles are "immunologically protected." It's more difficult for viruses to enter there, and also harder for the immune system to get rid of a virus once it does, according to Bausch. India's not taking any chances, though: It recently quarantined a "cured" survivor whose semen tested positive. (Read more Ebola stories.)

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