Men who survive from the deadly Ebola virus disease should abstain from sex for at least three months and if they cannot they should use condoms, the World Health Organisation says.
It said studies had shown that men who had survived the ebola virus still shed the virus in their semen up to 82 days later. Although vaginal fluids also believed to carry the virus WHO’s warning was only directed at men.
“In four studies that investigated persistence of Ebola virus in seminal fluid from convalescent patients (a total of 43 patients), three men who had recovered from Ebola virus disease were reported to shed live virus in semen 40 days, 61 days and 82 days after onset of symptoms, respectively,” WHO said in a statement.
“Men who have recovered from Ebola virus disease should be aware that seminal fluid may be infectious for as long as three months after onset of symptoms.
“Because of the potential to transmit the virus sexually during this time, they should maintain good personal hygiene after masturbation, and either abstain from sex (including oral sex) for three months after onset of symptoms, or use condoms if abstinence is not possible.”
Ebola has affected more than 16 000 people, nearly 6 000 of whom have died, mainly in West Africa.
There have been no cases in Zimbabwe but the government is taking precautions to screen people with the deadly virus.