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CDC Says Ebola Survivors Should Keep Using Condoms Indefinitely

The virus may survive in semen longer than originally thought

(CDC/PHIL/CORBIS)
smithsonian.com

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are recommending that Ebola survivors always use condoms during sex, after a woman in Liberia possibly contracted the virus from having sex with a man who survived the disease.

The woman developed Ebola in mid-March despite having no contact with people infected with the disease and not having traveled to places with Ebola patients, writes Rachael Rettner for LiveScience. While the man had been cleared of Ebola back in October, doctors detected genetic material from the virus in a recent sample of his semen. The sample matched the strain of Ebola that was found in the sick woman.

Although the report suggests that the virus was transmitted when the couple had unprotected sex, it’s still uncertain whether that was the source of the transmission. The Ebola survivor reportedly had sex with another woman a few weeks before, but she did not contract the virus. If true, this would be the second recorded case of Ebola being sexually transmitted, after a lone case during the the 1995 outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, writes Rettner.

Doctors have previously known that Ebola can survive for months in semen and have recommended that survivors either use condoms or abstain from sex entirely for three months after the disease has run its course. For now, officials are encouraging male survivors to keep using condoms until more conclusive information is found.

About Danny Lewis

Danny Lewis is a multimedia journalist working in print, radio, and illustration. He focuses on stories with a health/science bent and has reported some of his favorite pieces from the prow of a canoe. Danny is based in Brooklyn, NY.

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