Ebola patients are being released from hospitals after the acute symptoms, such as fever, vomiting and diarrhea, have subsided, and their blood tests are clear of Ebola virus. Unfortunately, as the chart below demonstrates, there are still live viruses within the body of the victim, and it is not known what the rate of transmission of these viruses are.
From Journal of Infectious Disease – Assessment of the Risk of Ebola Virus Transmission from Bodily Fluids and Fomites
In the summary:
“The isolation of EBOV from semen 40 days after the onset of illness underscores the risk of sexual transmission of the filoviruses during convalescence. Zaire EBOV has been detected in the semen of convalescent patients by virus isolation (82 days) and RT-PCR (91 days) after disease onset. Marburg virus has also been isolated from the semen and linked conclusively to sexual transmission 13 weeks into convalescence.”
The earlier outbreaks of Ebola have been contained locally to villages, and the disease was eliminated from the population. The situation is different this time because the disease has become widespread, and appears to going beyond West Africa. The Ebola outbreak will not be over until every case of it has been eliminated from humans. A single case on December 28, 2013 became 10,000 by October 2014. The American medical establishment has what may prove to be excessive hubris when they claim they can control an outbreak in this country. Time will tell. The US and other advanced countries may be able to cope, but what will happen when the disease reaches densely populated areas with very little medical resources. Until a vaccine is available humanity will suffer.
The report above is bothersome because if the virus has been observed to live in the semen for 91 days after onset of symptoms, that means there is a risk of transmission that would not show up for 100 days. That makes discovering and isolating the carrier difficult. If the carrier is a truck driver he may have many partners before he is even suspected. If transmission via semen is impossible then there is no worry, but since the virus has been shown to prefer warm wet environments it will have time to find a new host. The male victims are being told not to have sex for three months, but that is like telling water not to run downhill. It may turn out that if the Ebola virus can live for 91 days in a male’s reproductive system, it may well make the adaptations to reside there permanently. If that happens Ebola will be with us until a vaccine is developed to totally rid the body of it, and that may not be possible.
With 80,000 cases by New Year’s 2015, half dying leaves 40,000 survivors, half are male and that leaves 20,000, and of those perhaps 10,000 are sexually active, and of that there would be 30 exposures times 10,000 or 300,000 exposures. That is a huge number so we must hope there is zero chance of transmission via sex.