The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged all Ebola survivors and their sexual partners to receive counseling to guard against possible transmission of the disease, adding that Ebola Virus can be sexually transmitted.
In a statement issued to pressmen in Lagos on Saturday, WHO revealed that although the sexual transmission of the Ebola Virus was yet to be ascertained, however the tendency of transmission from males to females is a strong possibility.
“The sexual transmission of the Ebola Virus from males to females is a strong possibility, but has not yet been proven; less probable, but theoretically possible.
“Studies have shown that Ebola virus can be isolated from semen up to 82 days after symptom onset.
“A recent case investigation identified genetic material (RNA) from the virus by nucleic acid amplification tests (such as RT-PCR) 199 days after symptom onset.
“This is well beyond the period of virus detecting ability in the blood of survivors and long after recovery from illness.
“The detection of virus genetic material many months after symptom onset is assumed to reflect the continuing, or at least very recent, presence of live and potentially transmissible Ebola virus.’’
“More surveillance data and research are needed on the risks of sexual transmission and particularly on the prevalence of viable and transmissible virus in semen over time,” WHO said.
WHO urged all Ebola survivors and their sexual partners to go for counselling.
“Ebola survivors and their sexual partners should either abstain from all types of sex or observe safe sex through correct and consistent condom use until their semen has twice tested negative.
“Having tested negative, survivors can safely resume normal sexual practices without fear of Ebola virus transmission,’’ the statement added.
According to WHO, male Ebola survivors should be offered semen testing at three months after onset of disease.
It said that for those who tested positive, semen testing should be every month thereafter until their semen tests negative for virus twice by RT-PCR, with an interval of one week between tests.
If an Ebola survivor’s semen has not been tested, he should continue to practice safe sex for at least six months after the onset of symptoms.