US health officials say Ebola survivors can spread the disease through unprotected sex many months after being declared free of the virus.
In a report Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention detailed the case of a 44-year-old Liberian woman who is believed to have contracted Ebola through sexual intercourse with an Ebola survivor. The man developed the disease last September and was discharged a month later. The woman fell sick in March, a week after having sex with him, and died.
Scientists had previously thought the Ebola virus could remain in semen for about three months, although suspected cases have been few and difficult to isolate.
CDC officials said they were now recommending that male Ebola survivors avoid unprotected sex indefinitely. They said they were conducting further studies to see how long the virus can remain viable in the bodily fluids of male and female survivors.
Ebola is spread through contact with the body fluids of an infected person. People who survive Ebola are generally considered to be noninfectious.
Liberia has had no new Ebola cases in five weeks. If that continues, the country could be declared Ebola-free by May 9.
The World Health Organization said the virus has killed more than 10,000 people, mostly in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. More than 24,000 people have been infected with Ebola since the West African outbreak began in December 2013.
Liberia has seen the most deaths in the Ebola outbreak, with more than 4,600 reported.