Theoretically speaking, since the Ebola virus can be transmitted through body fluids including semen, the possibility that sexual intercourse might be accounting for the infections is not ruled out completely. However unlikely it might be, the Centers For Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) is frightening the people to make use of condoms.
What has been documented about the possible ways of the transmission of the Ebola virus includes being in direct contact with certain secretions of an infected person, or indirect contact whereby an uninfected person touches surfaces contaminated with the substances; for infection to occur from person-to-person, someone must have his broken skin or mucous membranes in contact with the following:
- Blood of an infected person
- Body fluids (urine, saliva, faeces, vomit, semen) of an infected person
- Objects contaminated with the blood or body fluids
- Infected animals
Now that the Ebola epidemic is spreading its tentacles into West Africa further and further, with no sign of dying out, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) is focusing on another strategy to prevent the propagation of the deadly virus: sensitizing people to wear condoms with the aim to protecting themselves from the Ebola virus.
The Ebola virus being sexually transmitted is indeed a possibility. This means through which infection happens might even be accounting for the terrible trend the epidemic has taken. Many are saying that sexual transmission of the pathogen might be behind the uncontrolled spread of the disease. The risk is not considered to be a significant one by many, others say it is not completely negligible; experts therefore recommend those who have recovered from the infection to avoid having unprotected sex for three months.
Around 45% of the infected men are surviving in the current epidemic. A male recovering from Ebola carries the virus for another seven weeks or so in his semen: the Ebola virus DNA can be detected in his sexual fluids. Infected women have also shown signs of the viral genetic material in their vaginal secretions after recovery. It is not yet confirmed whether the viral DNA is living, let alone if it can be transmitted. However, some are of the opinion that the virus might very much be intact and capable of infecting others.
The transmission rate of the virus during an instance of sexual intercourse is not known either. For instance, the HIV rate of transmission during sexual intercourse depends on the amount of virus in the infected person’s blood and other factors. Broadly speaking, the calculations that have been done in this regard show that there is a chance of 1 in 200 to 2000 for infection for vaginal intercourse and 1 in 100 for anal sex. Perhaps, the rate of transmission of the Ebola pathogen is similar?
Uptil now, the obstacles that have been found to be in the way of some relief from the current chaotic situation have been deemed to be mostly the poor health care resources together with the difficulties associated with the caring for patients, entailing mental and emotional state of the people.
Now, the attention has shifted to the possibility of having those who are recovering, or, those who have as yet been undiagnosed, infect others through sex. Many survivors actually have the noxious virus in their semen or vaginal secretions. Many of these must be sexually active. What if the virus is being propagated through sexual intercourse?
Faced by such a dreadful possibility, the tactics of dealing with the epidemic might change, which could prove to be advantageous at many levels. Sensitising the people of the danger of sexual transmission might work better than other health messages. People tend to be more cautious of such a dawning possibility, specially knowing that death from infections happen in a short amount of time. The CDC therefore is cautioning people to make use of condoms.