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Ebola Virus Can be Present in Sperm for 82 Days, Says WHO

Clarifying the wary authorities in India and other countries who have mounted screening of patients returning from West africa, The World Health Organization said human sperm can carry the Ebola virus for over 82 days, and those who have recovered from the disease should wear condomes for at least three months.

WHO Photo Mali/Yvette Bivigou

WHO Photo Mali/Yvette Bivigou

Underscoring the potential to transmit the virus sexually for three months after recovery, WHO said in a statement, the ebola-hit patients “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.”

The WHO said in 3 studies conducted on 43 patients, three men who had recovered from Ebola still had the live virus in their semen for 40 days, 61 days and 82 days respectively. Though no case of sexual transmission of Ebola had been detected, it is still unclear whether semen carrying ebola is actually infectious.

The four studies were carried out in different countries for over three decades, said WHO. Since Ebola is highly contagious, the virus gets passed on to others only after a person is infected and through direct contact with their bodily fluids, it said.

Symptoms of Ebola include fever, headache, diarrhea, vomiting and in some cases bleeding and so far this year, the Ebola epidemic in West Africa has claimed around 5,700 lives, all of them Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Watch interactive Ebola map:


Ebola CheckList Released:

WHO has also released the consolidated checklist for Ebola virus disease preparedness aims to help countries to assess and test their level of readiness, and be used as a tool for identifying concrete action to be taken by countries and how they will be supported by the international community to close potentially existing gaps.

The checklist is based on efforts by various national and international institutions, including WHO, CDC and UN OCHA and it identifies 10 key components and tasks for both countries and the international community that should be completed within 30, 60 and 90 days respectively.

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