The study has proved that the dreaded Ebola virus can live in the semen of male survivors of the disease up to nine months after being declared free from the virus.
Scientists said that this period is much longer than previously anticipated warning male survivors risk infesting others especially female partner.
Though the result of this new finding is still at the preliminary stage, the finding, however, has dashed hope when the disease will be brought to an end. Scientists noted that at it this stage of the research they are yet to confirm if the traces of the virus in semen were infectious, Vanguard reports.
According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) Ebola expert, Bruce Aylward the result came at a very important time in the fight against the scourge .
Aylward added that the survivors of the disease which made up of 17,000 people in West Africa need continued monitoring and support for the next six to 12 months of this disease must be eradicated.
He pointed out that male survivors especially must stay away from sex for the next three months after declared free of the virus.
The disease according to WHO data has infected about 28,000 people and out of this number 11,300 people have died from Ebola.
According to Professor Jonathan Ball, a molecular virology at Britain’s Nottingham University expressed worry over this new finding.
Ball said: “This confirms that Ebola virus can persist in the genital tract for a considerable length of time, months after the virus has disappeared from the blood,’’ ‘’It worryingly shows that this long-lived reservoir is a potential source of new infections.”
The outcome of this new finding was reached when scientists took semen samples for testing from 93 Ebola virus survivors who are 18 and above in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
All of the men, who were tested in the first three months after becoming ill, were positive for Ebola virus. Some 65 percent tested four to six months after their illness were positive, while a quarter of those tested seven to nine months after falling ill tested positive.
Researcher said: “why some study participants had cleared the fragments of Ebola virus from semen earlier, others remain unclear.”
The researchers stated that further tests of the samples were being conducted by the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention “to determine if the virus is live and potentially infectious.”
WHO has ,however, advised male survivors to always carry test to ascertain if they are still carrying the virus three months declared free and monthly afterward for the next nine months.