Persistence of Ebola virus in various body fluids during convalescence: evidence and implications for disease transmission and control

Added March 19, 2019

Citation: Chughtai AA, Barnes M, Macintyre CR. Persistence of Ebola virus in various body fluids during convalescence: evidence and implications for disease transmission and control. Epidemiology & Infection. 2016 Jun;144(8):1652-60.

Summary: The persistence of Ebola virus (EBOV) in various body fluids (around 800 specimens in total) was studied in this review. There is a need for more research on persistence, and a uniform approach to infection control guidelines in convalescence in EBOV and viral RNA.

The systematic review found 12 studies of patients who had recovered clinically from the disease. Fluids studied included semen, vaginal, faecal and conjunctival fluids, blood, tears, sweat, urine and saliva.  Specimens were tested by ELISA and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).

The samples showed that the virus can certainly persist in body fluids after clinical recovery but current evidence is based on a very small number of patients and larger, statistically robust studies are needed to inform better infection control guidelines in convalescence. The mechanism of survival of EBOV in recovered patients is not clear, nor consistent, and may be linked to the possibility of infection by asymptomatic patients. Precautionary guidance about avoiding sexual intercourse or using barrier contraception is given, and a need for further research reinforced.

 

Disclaimer: This summary has been written by staff and volunteers of Evidence Aid in order to make the content of the original document accessible to decision makers who are searching for the available evidence on Ebola but may not have the time, initially, to read the original report in full. This summary is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians, other health workers, professional associations, guideline developers, or national governments and international agencies. If readers of this summary think that the evidence that is presented within it is relevant to their decision-making they should refer to the content and details of the original article, and the advice and guidelines offered by other sources of expertise, before making decisions. Evidence Aid cannot be held responsible for any decisions made about Ebola on the basis of this summary alone.

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