Ebola might be transmitted through sexual intercourse, according to a new statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency is warning Americans not to engage in unprotected sexual relations with survivors of the often-fatal illness.

A 44-year-old Liberian woman was diagnosed with Ebola that doctors determined was transmitted to the patient from semen of a former Ebola patient.

A review of the case suggests that the Ebola virus is able to survive longer in semen than previously believed, triggering the new advisory from the federal agency.

The most recent case of a patient in Liberia being isolated due to Ebola took place in the third week of February. The female patient in Monrovia was diagnosed with the disease on March 20, 2015 — a full 30 days after that case. She had not traveled to areas where the disease is more rampant, had not visited with people from Sierra Leone or Guinea and had no contact with anyone expressing current symptoms of Ebola. An interview with the patient revealed just one possible path by which she could have become infected with the virus — unprotected sex with a male survivor of the disease, five months after he was discharged from an Ebola treatment facility.

"On March 14, 2015, a woman from Monrovia aged 44 years (patient A) developed headache, weakness, joint pain and nausea. She went to a hospital on March 19, and was triaged as a suspected Ebola patient to a nearby transit center (a facility for rapid isolation, diagnosis, and referral of Ebola patients)," the CDC reports on its website.

The patient was diagnosed with the disease on March 20. She revealed to health officials she had engaged in unprotected vaginal intercourse with a 46-year-old male from another neighborhood of Monrovia. Tests on the male survivor were inconclusive, although one test on his semen showed the presence of the disease.

The CDC is cautioning people that if they choose to have intimate relations, in whatever form, with an Ebola survivor, a condom should always be worn. The virus may be carried in semen, so the organization is aiming the warning directly at men. Previous recommendations advised abstinence or condom use by Ebola survivors for three months following recovery from the disease. They also urge proper and careful disposal of the used condom, and washing skin with soap and water afterward.

"CDC said it is conducting further studies to see how long the virus can remain viable in body fluids of male and female survivors and the likelihood of sexual transmission," Julie Steenhuysen wrote for Reuters News Service.

The 2014 Ebola outbreak infected roughly 26,300 people, with 14,900 cases confirmed by laboratories. Of these victims, almost 10,900 — more than 40 percent — perished from the effects of the disease.

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