BOSTON — Results from a study involving 25 Guinean Ebola survivors showed that the virus was present in about 10% of semen samples, including one sample collected 300 days after disease onset.

Daouda Sissoko, MD, a clinical epidemiologist and lecturer at Bordeaux University Hospital Center, discussed the results with Infectious Disease Advisor at CROI 2016 on Monday.

Dr Sissoko said it was unclear whether those men could transmit the virus.

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“We are still following them,” he said. “This might be the source of a new outbreak.”

It’s been established that the testes may be a reservoir for the Ebola virus (EBOV). To estimate the probability that EBOV RNA will clear semen over time, researchers collected 116 samples from men discharged from three Ebola treatment units.

Median time from onset to first collection was 49 days and median time from first to last semen collection was 193 days. Eighteen men had positive EBOV RT-PCR in the first semen sample. The semen of the patient having the longest follow-up was still positive to EBOV at day 300 post-disease onset.

Using a linear mixed model, the researchers estimated that the time to achieve negative RT-PCR in semen was 127 days in 50% (95% PI, 71-221) of patients and 375 days (95% PI, 222-638) for  90% of the patients.

Based on these findings, Dr Sissoko and his team recommended instituting semen testing and dedicated counseling in long-term care programs, and encouraging condom use to reduce the risk for sexual transmission.

Even though this most recent epidemic appears to have run its course, Dr. Sissoko cautioned against complacency about infection control practices, especially among medical professionals. 

“Prevention is the most important thing. Prevention of transmission within hospitals” he said. “We see that with HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, a lot of people contract disease within the hospital. That is not acceptable. We still have a lot of work to do with infection control within hospitals.”

To hear more of Infectious Disease Advisor’s interview with Dr. Sissoko, play the video below.



1. Sissoko D. 75LB. Dynamics of Ebola Virus Clearance in Semen in Guinea. Presented at: CROI 2016. Feb. 22-25, 2016. Boston.