A male Ebola survivor in Liberia was suspected of transferring the Ebola virus to his female partner in March 2015. He was previously advised that it was safe to resume sexual activity, however, a genetic strain of the virus was identified in his semen 175 days after he caught the symptoms. The rate is 74 days longer compared to previous cases.

Health officials then adjusted the guidelines for Ebola survivors who were advised to abstain from any sexual activity for longer than what was previously advised - three months. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised that survivors take a pause in their sexual activities or use a condom until 'more information becomes available'. The case with the man in Liberia was the first case that Ebola was transmitted sexually.

Two studies released in the New England Journal of Medicine on Oct. 14, 2015 shared new findings on how Ebola has become a sexually transmitted disease. One study confirmed that the man in Liberia had, indeed, transferred the virus to his female partner through intercourse. The male survivor is still alive while his female partner, unfortunately, died from the infection.

The second study analyzed 93 semen samples from male Ebola survivors in Sierra Leone and found that many are still producing semen samples positive with the Ebola strain nine months after the symptoms first manifested. The men were first tested three months into the illness and reared positive results. Half of the men tested between the fourth and sixth months still had positive results. Lastly, a quarter of the male participants tested positive between the seventh and ninth month.

"Ebola survivors face an increasing number of recognized health complications. This study provides important new information about the persistence of Ebola virus in semen and helps us make recommendations for survivors and their loved ones to help them stay healthy," said CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden. The study involving 93 male Ebola survivor is the first of many long-term studies on Ebola being done between the CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation.

While it remains unknown why some men were able to beat the virus faster than the other male survivors, the research team is analyzing whether these Ebola fragments are infectious. In light of the recent findings, the 8,000 male survivors in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea need to be counseled and tested regularly until health officials know more. Until a male survivor has been tested twice with negative results, abstaining from any sexual activity or using a condom is highly advisable. The CDC added that hands also need to be washed thoroughly after physical contact with the infected semen.

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