Ebola outbreak: Survivors told to 'use condoms' to prevent virus spreading

Survivors advised not to have unprotected sex for at least 90 days

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The Independent Online

Ebola survivors in West Africa have been advised to use condoms in a bid to prevent the disease from spreading.

Peter Piot, one of the discoverers of the deadly virus in 1976, has said survivors should not have unprotected sex for at least 90 days after it was discovered the virus could remain present.

The World Health Organisation is hoping to announce later this week that Nigeria and Senegal are free of Ebola after 42 days with no infections.

The maximum incubation period of the virus is 21 days, however it appears the disease can last in semen for much longer. In an information note on Monday, the WHO said: “In a convalescent male, the virus can persist in semen for at least 70 days; one study suggests persistence for more than 90 days.”

Mr Piot, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: "Certainly, the advice has to be for survivors to use a condom, to not have unprotected sex, for 90 days."

"If we would apply the rule for double the time, that would be 180 days - six months. I think it (90 days) is probably a compromise, for practicality," he told a news conference in Geneva.

Ebola spreads via bodily fluids such as blood and saliva, but it has also been detected in breast milk and urine, as well as semen, the WHO has said. The whole live virus has never been isolated from sweat, however.

More than 3,400 people are already known to have died in West Africa in the world's worst Ebola outbreak on record.

It was reported today that the bodies of Ebola victims have been left in the streets of Sierra Leone following a strike by burial teams who say they have not been paid.

Health Ministry spokesman Sidie Yahya Tunis said the situation was "very embarrassing", and insisted money was available to pay the teams.

The WHO says Ebola is believed to have killed more than 600 people in Sierra Leone, where there have been more than 2,100 confirmed cases.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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