An Indian, who has contracted Ebola during his travel to Liberia returned home after cure but still kept under observation at the Delhi airport as traces of the dreaded virus were found in some of his body fluids. The first case of Ebola to counter in the country and all the airports have been put on alert to screen passengers.
The blood samples of the 26-year old male, who had traveled from Liberia to India and reached Delhi Nov 10, tested negative, but his semen samples tested positive, a health ministry statement said here.
He underwent the mandatory screening at the Delhi airport. During interview, he gave history of febrile illness for which he was admitted to a health facility in Liberia Sep 11 and was discharged Sep 30.
He carried a certificate of medical clearance from the government of Liberia that said: “He has successfully undergone care and treatment related to Ebola virus disease and after post-treatment assessment, he has been declared free of any clinical signs and symptoms and confirmed negative by laboratory analysis.”
The statement said that as a matter of abundant caution, the person was isolated at the Airport Health Organisation’s quarantine centre at the Delhi airport. His three blood samples tested at the National Centre for Disease Control in Delhi were found negative for Ebola virus.
Therefore, as per WHO and CDC specifications, he was deemed to be cured. However, as has been reported in the past, the virus may continue to be positive in secretions like urine and semen for a longer time.
“Before releasing him from quarantine, a decision was taken to test his other body fluids. His semen sample tested at the National Centre for Disease Control on Nov 17 was found positive for Ebola virus,” the health ministry statement said.
The statement clarified that the person was a treated and cured case of Ebola as no case of Ebola relapse has ever been documented.
“It is a known fact that during convalescence from Ebola virus disease, people continue to shed virus in body fluids for variable periods. However, presence of virus in his semen samples may have the possibility of transmitting the disease through sexual route upto 90 days from time of clinical cure,” it added.
Ebola has so far claimed the lives of more than 5,000 people in western Africa.