Monday, February 11, 2008

Sexually transmitted Ebola ?

Because Ebola is transmitted via infected bodily fluids someone asked whether it could be sexually transmitted. I suggested this was unlikely because individuals are not infectious until they are very sick. However I was forgetting about the 10-50% of people who do recover from Ebola. Apparently even though they have recovered from the disease they can still have virus in their semen up to seven weeks after they recovered. Recovered Ebola patients are advised to 'not have sex for 3 months or until tests show that semen is free of the virus.' Another possibility is that there may be some asymptomatic carriers of Ebola. These individuals may transmit the disease sexually. I hasten to add that transmission via this route is not thought to have contributed in a significant way to any of the known outbreaks. Interesting though.

Hot off the press is a news report that Ebola may not be so hard to work with in the future after all. By removing a single gene from the virus scientists were able to stop it replicating. That's one result they might want to double check......

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