The Ebola virus disease can survive well beyond the 21-day incubation period previously thought - a timeline which was applied by many countries that imposed travel restrictions to combat the spread of the Ebola virus.
According to studies reviewed by the World Health Organization, there is evidence that seminal fluids of convalescing men can shed the Ebola virus for at least 82 days after onset of symptoms.
In four studies that investigated persistence of Ebola virus in semen, three men who had recovered from the Ebola virus disease were reported to shed live virus in semen 40 days, 61 days and 82 days after onset of symptoms.
Although the scientific evidence is limited, WHO warns that it is clear that semen is a potential source of infection and could therefore cause transmission of the virus. Therefore, it is possible for Ebola virus to be present in semen for three months after disease onset. However, the WHO stated that it does not have any documented cases of the Ebola virus disease being sexually transmitted.
Ebola is a severe, often fatal illness in humans with an average fatality rate of around 50%. The virus was originally transmitted to people in Africa from non-human primates (such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees) and later spread into the human population through human-to-human transmission.
Image Credit: CDC