Ebola can live in semen much longer than you think
As more cases of Ebola continue to spread throughout the country, many are wondering if patients are still contagious after they leave a treatment center or hospital. Ebola is contracted by exchange in bodily fluids. In cases of recovered patients, medical studies found that people recovering from Ebola were not contagious by sharing kisses or handshakes. Likewise, their sweat, vomit, urine and feces also turned out to be free of Ebola. However, the same wasn't found in semen.
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Turns out that Ebola can live in a man's semen for weeks or up to several months. A study conducted in patients in the Congo found that one survivor had Ebola in his semen samples for 61 days after he was cured of the disease. Another study in 1999 found one man had Ebola in his semen for 82 days after he fell sick with the potentially deadly disease. According to The World Health Organization, survivors of Ebola are recommended to practice protected sex for "at least" three months after being treated for the illness.
Another scary part is that a similar warning has been placed for breast milk. Ebola can live in breast milk for two weeks or more. Women who are nursing and survived the disease are strongly encouraged not to breastfeed until being cleared by a doctor. In addition, the CDC reports that Ebola survivors end up developing antibodies that can protect them from contracting the virus again for up to 10 years. That said, it is still unclear whether they can be cleared from Ebola for life or are at risk of getting infected with a different species of the disease.
While we keep freaking out about the illness and how quickly it has been spreading, scientists have been trying to find a cure for Ebola. They are currently developing an experimental treatment for Ebola called ZMapp, but it hasn't been tested on humans as of yet.
Image via Corbis