The Liberian Government is warning Ebola survivors to abstain from sex – or at least practise safe sex – following the death of a 44-year-old woman who potentially caught the disease through sexual contact.
The West African nation urged survivors on Sunday to observe a period of sexual abstinence or protected sex beyond the World Health Organization’s 90-day post-recovery precautionary period, sparked by the country’s first case of Ebola in several weeks.
It is believed the patient, who died on Friday, might have contracted the disease through sexual contact with her boyfriend, an Ebola survivor.
The death comes as Liberia approached the end of a year-long epidemic that killed more than 4,000 people.
More than 10,300 people have succumbed to the disease across Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the three countries hardest hit by the worst Ebola epidemic on record.
Liberia’s Deputy Health Minister Tolbert Nyenswah, who heads Liberia’s Ebola response, said survivors should follow the World Health Organization’s guidelines for longer than three months, until the modes of transmission are better understood.
“Ebola survivors should consider correct and consistent use of condoms for all sexual acts beyond three months until more information is available,” Reuters reported.
Traces of Ebola have been found in semen for at least 82 days after the onset of symptoms, meaning survivors could still carry the disease long after recovery, yet it remains unknown whether these traces are infectious.