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article imageEbola survivor transmits disease through sexual intercourse

By Phyllis Smith Asinyanbi     Oct 18, 2015 in Health
A genetic analysis has determined that a male Ebola survivor transmitted the virus to a female partner through unprotected sexual intercourse. This was after the man's blood tested negative for the disease.
The Liberian woman became sick and died on March 27, 2015, approximately 20 days after vaginal intercourse with the male survivor. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, she is the first person known to have contracted the virus through sex. Much of the general population believes that the only way to contract the virus is through direct contact with the the blood or body fluids from a sick or deceased individual.
However, scientists have long known that the virus is persistent and can be found in individuals after they have recovered from outward symptoms of illness. After the virus is no longer visible in blood, it can appear in semen, breast milk and eyes.
The male survivor, who was also Liberian, transmitted the virus to his partner. The man's blood had tested negative for 155 days before the two had sex. Semen samples were taken after the woman began showing Ebola symptoms and samples showed her male partner's semen was still infected with the virus.
On March 20, 2015, the 44-year-old woman was confirmed to have Ebola. Initially, no source of infection was revealed, meaning the patient had not had contact with anyone with acute Ebola symptoms. But she reported that she had unprotected vaginal intercourse with a male Liberian Ebola survivor. The survivor also had a brother who was diagnosed with Ebola on August 22, 2014 and died during the night of September 5-6, 2014.
After the death of his brother, the survivor began displaying Ebola symptoms on September 9, 2014 and was admitted to an Ebola treatment center. The survivor was tested three times, including upon admission, on September 23, results were negative; September 29 with negative results; and October 3, resulting in another negative test. He was released from the treatment center on October 7 with no symptoms of illness. The survivor's estranged former wife had been admitted to the treatment center on September 24, 2014 and died the following day.
Due to the above findings, the survivor's blood was tested on March 23, 2015 and semen was tested on March 27. His blood tested negative for the Ebola virus, but his semen tested positive. This was 199 days after the probable onset of Ebola and 175 days after the survivor's blood had first tested negative. On April 28, the survivor's semen was tested a second time, and no Ebola was detected. A third semen sample was tested on May 1, which confirmed the semen was cleared of Ebola 231 days after the survivor's first negative blood test.
Identical viruses were found in the Liberian woman who died and the survivor via genetic sequencing. This virtually confirms direct transmission between the survivor and his partner. Despite these findings, Armand Sprecher of Doctors Without Borders stated that "sexual transmission remains a rare event" and noted that there are 17,000 survivors of Ebola. Sprecher said that if sexual transmission was the norm, there would be more cases.
More about Ebola, ebola is an std, sexual transmission of ebola, ebola and unprotected sex