Ebola could be sexually transmitted as much as six months or more after a patient has fully recovered from the disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have now warned based on recent findings. Until further notice, the agencies said, Ebola survivors should make sure they use safer sex practices, such as those effective at protecting against the transmission of HIV. The ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the deadliest the world has ever seen, having already claimed more than 10,600 lives.

The major route of contagion has been thought to be direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected patients or the bodies of those killed by the disease. However, sexual transmission has previously been accepted as a possibility, and prior recommendations were for Ebola survivors to abstain or use protection for three months after testing negative for the disease. The new recommendations were spurred by the case of a Liberian woman who recently became sick and died of Ebola, the first new case of Ebola in that country in three weeks. She had not been in contact with any Ebola patients or the bodies of anyone who had died from the disease. It was later discovered, however, that her boyfriend was an Ebola survivor. She had been in contact with him after his blood tested free of the deadly virus six months ago in September. MORE