Ebola Survivors Can Pass on Disease Through Sexual Activity

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), ebola outbreak that was declared in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the world’s second-largest Ebola epidemic. The latest figures show that 3444 cases of Ebola were recorded including 1169 survivors and 2264 deaths. Considering the severity of the disease, scientists are trying to uncover as much as they can about ebola and its consequences. The latest study showed that survivors can pass on the virus through sexual intercourse. 

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Passing on Ebola through sexual intercourse

Ebola is a serious condition that requires further studies to uncover all the mechanisms through which the disease spreads and develops. Reports show that the re-emergence of Ebola is strongly associated with sexual transmission from survivors and persistent infections. In other words, patients who have survived ebola can still carry the virus and spread it to their sexual partners several months after the recovery. Survival from ebola and absence of symptoms may give people a false sense of security which is why they could transmit the virus (which they still carry) to someone without realizing it. 

A review of studies, published in the journal Virus, focused on the persistence of the Ebola virus in survivors. The paper suggests that sporadic transmission events led to the initiation of new chains of human-to-human transmission. As a result, many studies theorized that the re-emergence was down to infections from people who have already survived the disease, as mentioned above. The asymptomatic infection and long-term viral persistence in ebola disease survivors could result in the incidental introduction of the virus in new geographic regions and raise both national and local public health concerns. 

The complexity surrounding ebola disease also includes the fact that the virus could be detected in 50% of male survivors even 115 days after recovery. What’s more, the Ebola virus could linger in the recovered patient for up to three years. This means there is a potential for a man who has beaten Ebola could still give the virus to his sexual partner. Of course, it would be difficult to control the outbreak and the incidence of new cases under these circumstances. 

Further studies are crucial

Discovery that survivors could pass ebola to their sexual partners is crucial, but many other questions need answers. One of the biggest problems here is that men’s semen was used in studies, but it is also important to carry out studies in women as well. 

The fact that ebola could have this transmission route could point to new cases of the disease. That’s why it’s also important to study the disease more thoroughly. The information obtained through studies could help educate the public and raise awareness of different transmission routes.

Conclusion

Evidence shows that patients who have survived ebola could still transmit the disease through sexual activity, even if they do not officially have other symptoms. More studies are necessary to explore this disease and different transmission routes. 

References 

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/ebola/drc-2019

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26465384

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30513823

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(16)30243-1/fulltext

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