UN: WHO says Ebola virus persists in body fluids of survivors for months

New York, US (PANA) - The Ebola virus can persist in the eye, semen, the placenta, breast milk
and central nervous system of survivors of the disease for as long as nine and a half months, a
new study supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

A preliminary study on Ebola virus persistence in the semen of male survivors in Sierra Leone
has found that some men still produce semen that tests positive on real time for nine months
or longer.

"One participant was still positive 9.5 months after his illness began," WHO stated, noting that
these results were from "baseline" samples provided by 93 men participating in the study, being jointly conducted by the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation, WHO and the US
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The latest findings came as WHO reported there were no confirmed cases of Ebola in West
Africa in the week to 11 October, making it the second consecutive week with zero confirmed

But, WHO noted that a patient who was reported as a case in the United Kingdom on
29 December 2014, and who later recovered, was hospitalized last week after developing late
Ebola-related complications.

The study stated: "All of the men who were tested in the first three months after their illness
began were positive (9/9; 100 per cent), and more than half of men (26/40; 65 per cent) who
were tested between four to six months after their illness began were positive, while one
quarter (11/46; 24 per cent) of those tested between seven to nine months after their illness
began also tested positive.

"It is still not known how long the virus can persist in semen, but this study will yield more
information about how long it takes for men to clear Ebola virus from semen."

Currently, WHO recommends that male Ebola survivors should be offered semen
testing at 3 months after onset of disease, and then, for those who test positive, every
month thereafter until their semen tests negative for virus twice with an interval of one
week between tests.

It said: "Until such time as their semen has twice tested negative for Ebola, survivors
should abstain from sex or use condoms, practice good hand and personal hygiene by
immediately and thoroughly washing with soap and water after any physical contact
with semen, including after masturbation."

WHO disclosed that the study will be widened to examine viral persistence in other body
fluids, in both women and men, post-Ebola.

"A growing volume of data from careful clinical observation and testing of people who
have recovered from acute Ebola virus disease indicates that the Ebola virus can persist
at various sites in the body for many months in some people," it said. "Such sites include the inside of the eye, semen, amniotic fluid, the placenta, breast milk and the central nervous system."
-0-   PANA   AA/AR 15Oct2015

15 october 2015 19:03:02

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