Health Ministry of Uganda has advised survivors from Ebola to abstain from sex for at least 90 days after being discharged from health facilities, unless they use contraceptives.
This is because of fears that the virus can still be transmitted even if victims had initially been given clean bills of health.
Ebola is transmitted via body fluids such as blood and saliva but there have been instances in which scientists have detected the virus in the semen of male survivors, months after making full recoveries.
Before returning home, Ebola patients will have their blood tested in the laboratory to ensure the virus is no longer in their body.
However, people who have recovered from the disease should not have sex for at least 90 days or use condoms if they cannot abstain,” said the Health Ministry.
According to Dr. Ataro Ayella, a clinical epidemiologist with expertise, the disease can still be transmitted even if survivors have no visible symptoms of infection.
“The nature of the virus gives it the ability to survive for long in reserves in the body (brain, spinal fluid, semen, placenta and eyes) even when the patient is declared cured. The virus can be stored alive in the semen for long since it is a conducive environment for its survival, unlike other body fluids,” said Ayella.
Ugandans have since urged President Yoweri Museveni’s government to sensitise locals on the directive to abstain in order to minimize the risk of increased infections.
A total of 36 people in Uganda have so far been suspected of being exposed to the virus, 23 of which have succumbed to it according to official government data.
Kenya’s Ministry of Health has since placed 20 counties on high alert for Ebola virus infection as cases in Uganda continue rising.
Dr. Patrick Amoth on Tuesday said that the counties at risk are Busia, Nakuru, Kiambu, Nairobi, Kajiado, Machakos, Makueni, Taita taveta, Mombasa, Kwale, and Kericho.
Bungoma, Siaya, Migori, Homa Bay, Kisumu, Trans Nzoia, West Pokot, Turkana, and Uasin Gishu were also placed on high alert.