Purpose of review: The ongoing Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa is a major global health challenge. The main mode of transmission is through contact with bodily fluids and skin of those infected or who have died. This review was undertaken to consider the evidence for transmission by contact with bodily fluids occurring through sexual activity.
Recent findings: No cases in the previous 20 outbreaks or the current outbreak in West Africa have been shown to be sexually transmitted, although other types of viral haemorrhagic fever have had sexual transmission implicated. Ebola virus is found in sites and fluids associated with sexual activity but this occurs at different stages of the disease. Persistence in the convalescent period occurs in rectum, vagina and semen, with persistence in semen being longest of up to at least 101 days. Recommendations based on this data are that those recovering from Ebola virus disease should abstain from all sexual intercourse, or if this is not possible, use condoms, for 3 months after the onset of symptoms.
Summary: There is theoretical plausibility for sexual transmission of Ebola virus but there has been no evidence of this occurring. Further research is needed to consider if sexual activity contributes to the epidemic in order to inform individuals with regard to avoiding acquisition or transmission by those recovering from Ebola virus disease.