MONROVIA, Liberia — A 44-year old woman who tested positive for the Ebola virus on March 20th may have contracted the disease through sexual intercourse with her boyfriend who is a recent Ebola survivor. The man is ”cured” of Ebola, but health officials said that it may be a possible explanation for how she became the country’s first confirmed case in weeks.
Ebola is typically transmitted through contact with the blood, vomit or feces of people who are sick. Survivors of Ebola are not generally considered contagious, but the virus lingers in semen, and so scientists urge survivors not to have sex for three months after recovering. Even though sexual transmission of Ebola has not yet been documented, it may be possible.
Infection through sexual intercourse is possible because the virus can remain in semen and possibly inside the eyes for up to three months after a patient recovers. For more details about how Ebola can survive in the body for up to 3 months after being cured, read our article from December: 3 Months After Ebola Infection the Semen of Survivors Remains Infectious
The patient is now being treated at the Monrovia Medical Unit, a U.S.-built field hospital staffed by health workers from the U.S. Public Health Service, said Kate Migliaccio, a spokeswoman for the service.
“We knew very well that we were not out of the woods yet,” said Tolbert Nyenswah, head of Liberia’s Ebola response.
The World Health Organization (WHO) requires a country to complete 42 days without any new case to be declared Ebola-free. Liberia, which has been affected the most by the disease, had discharged its last known patient on March 5 from Monrovia. The government had reportedly hoped the country would be declared Ebola-free next month, having gone 27 days without a new case of the disease, until Friday’s discovery.. Src: (ABC Action News | ABC News)
According to WHO, over 4,200 people in Liberia have died due to the disease while over 10,000 people have died since the disease was detected last year in Guinea. Health officials had earlier said that while there were hopes that Liberia could curtail the spread of the disease, the country remained at risk until Sierra Leone and Guinea beat the disease.