Guinea: Ebola viral RNA in semen

A study of Ebola virus disease survivors in Guinea has added to previous evidence that the virus can persist for as long as 9 months in the semen of survivors, reinforcing the concern about a risk of sexual transmission for months after recovery.

An international team of researchers tested 98 semen samples from 68 Ebola survivors in Conakry and Macenta, Guinea, from March through October 2015, according to their 3 May 2016 report in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) results for Ebola RNA were positive for 10 samples collected from 8 men up to 276 days

(9 months) after their 1st symptoms.

The proportion of specimens that tested positive decreased over time, with positive results for 28.6% of specimens (4 of 14) obtained between 1 and 3 months after disease onset, 16.7% (3 of 18) collected at 4 to 6 months, and 6.5% (2 of 31) obtained at 7 to 9 months, the report says.

The researchers did not determine whether the samples contained infectious virus. Semen probably does not remain infectious during the whole period, and viral isolation and sequencing will soon be performed to determine the infectivity of samples,” they wrote.

In a study published in October 2015, Ebola RNA was found in the semen of 11 of 43 Ebola survivors who were tested between 7 and 9 months after their illness. And reports published in 2015 suggested that an Ebola case in a Liberian woman was probably caused by sexual transmission from her husband, an Ebola survivor.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that Ebola survivors abstain from sex or use condoms for up to 6 months after Ebola infection if semen testing is unavailable.

Communicated by: ProMED-mail

A new study conducted in Guinea confirms the Ebola virus (EBOV) may remain in a survivor’s semen up to one year. The new report confirms the study conducted in October 2015 in Sierra Leone. Researchers believe that fragments of the virus could remain permanently in the body of survivors and pose a danger for their sexual contacts

[those who had contact, intimate and otherwise, with the recovering EVD males]. The French and Guinean researchers who have followed the 450 healed patients have performed 98 levels of sperm testing on 68 men. The Ebola virus has been detected on 8 of them 9 months after they were healed. The researchers also noted that the persistence of the virus in the seminal fluid decreased with time.

According to researchers, the virus was present in 28.5 percent of samples collected between 1-3 months [following being declared free from EVD]. Between the 10th and the 12th month, it was estimated that 3.5 percent of the samples tested positive for Ebola virus before disappearing completely at the end of one year.

Prior to the outbreak, Ebola virus had only been detected in the semen of a few male survivors by cell culture (maximum duration 82 days after disease onset).

According to the Institute of Research for Development based in Guinea in collaboration with other agencies, these results “put the emphasis on the need to recommend, at the international level, the use of condoms by survivors in the months following their healing

South African Society of Travel Medicine (SASTM)

For further information regarding this or any other Travel or Occupational Health related issue contact us on 0861 873 477 or 



The content and opinions are occasionally not pre-screened nor endorsed by HSP GROUP SA or any of it’s sources.

The content should neither be interpreted nor quoted as inherently accurate or authoritative.

This information as provided in the HSP GROUP SA Update or Facts is sourced from a variety of websites, government agencies, news sources and medical professional bodies.

The objective is to provide the reader with accurate and up to date facts and is done so free of charge and in good faith, in the understanding that any express or implied warranty as to its suitability for any purpose is categorically disclaimed. It is important for any traveller to consult a professionally qualified professional before departure for suitable and individualised advice. This advice is generalised and may not be appropriate for all persons, including but not limited to current medical conditions, allergies, gender, pregnancy, lactation, health status, medical treatment, medical conditions, age, etc

Distributed by HSP Group SA (Pty) Ltd on 9/5/2016