Ebola Triggers Safe Sex Warnings After Virus Was Found In Man's Semen Months After Recovery

Ebola is already known to be a deadly virus that's easily transmitted through bodily fluids — blood, saliva, sweat, and, yes, semen too — but surprisingly little attention has been given to whether the virus can spread through sexual activity. Until now that is. Startling cases of sexually transmitted infections have prompted the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to issue a safe sex warning for Ebola survivors Sunday night. Signs suggest the virus could be transmitted through sex even if a person recovered months ago.

Experts say the probability of sexual transmission of Ebola is low, but the CDC isn't taking any chances. In its warning, the disease control agency suggested Ebola survivors abstain from sex indefinitely. For those who choose to not abstain, the CDC says to always practice safe sex such as using a condom "correctly and consistently."

Scientists know that the Ebola virus can stay in semen even after recovery and are studying to determine if Ebola can be spread through sex. Because sexual transmission of Ebola cannot be ruled out, Ebola survivors should not have sex (oral, vaginal, or anal) until more information becomes available. Those who do have sex should use a condom correctly and consistently every time they have sex.
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The World Health Organization and Liberia issued similar notices over the past few weeks after the semen of a Liberian man revealed traces of Ebola six months after he had recovered. Partial sequences from the virus in the semen sample matched at several key points with the genetic sequence found in an infected female partner. The new information indicates Ebola could be transmitted through sexual activity, but the findings aren't conclusive since scientists have yet to determine whether the sample actually contained the deadly parts of the virus or harmless leftover genetic material.

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Ebola has left tens of thousands dead since the outbreak began in February 2014. The official death toll in West Africa passed 10,000 last month, according to WHO, with Liberia as the country having the most deaths at 4,162 people. A U.N. official said the agency expected the current Ebola outbreak to end by August.

But the possibility of Ebola as a sexually transmitted virus could hinder the massive progress made in recent months as officials gear up to declare victory against the outbreak. Hopefully, researchers will soon be able to provide clearer answers. Ebola or not though, safe sex is always the smart play.

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