The finding supports the current recommendations to that effect, according to the authors of the study, which was published Dec. 16 in the journal Reproductive Sciences. However, they noted there is a lack of research on sex and male survivors of Ebola.
"Our exercise demonstrated that the current recommendations to prevent the sexual spread of Ebola are based on one mere observation," the researchers wrote. "Despite the evident need to conduct more research, for now, health care professionals should strongly recommend sexual abstinence or condom-protected encounters for at least three months."
The investigators examined research on male Ebola survivors that was conducted between 1977 and 2007 and found only four studies that contained information about the men's semen. Those four studies showed that the Ebola virus persisted in semen for an average of more than 66 days. In one man, the virus lasted for 91 days.
"The current Ebola virus disease outbreak is the longest and largest we have ever seen. Nonetheless, our results clearly demonstrate how much we ignore about it. Larger studies are needed to establish the social, clinical and biological determinants of this neglected disease," the researchers concluded.