Liberia has confirmed a new case of Ebola. For the past weeks, there had not been a new case until a woman tested positive on Friday in the capital, Monrovia.
Liberia thought it had discharged its final Ebola patient, Beatrice Yardolo, over two weeks ago, but the new case deflated optimism and high hopes of the country being free of the virus. More than 4,000 people in Liberia have died from the disease.
Health Officials say its unclear how the woman, a food seller, became infected. She had not been on the monitoring list of possible exposure and she claims she had not traveled out of Liberia. The Information Ministry issued a statement saying “initial suspicion is that it may be the result of possible sexual intercourse with an Ebola survivor.”
While that is only speculative, researchers have found evidence that Ebola may persist in semen for up to three months after recovery, and abstinence is recommended.
In part for this reason, the World Health Organization intends to release new guidelines for when an Ebola epidemic ends, a W.H.O. official said.
To be declared Ebola-free, countries must wait 42 days from when the last patient tests negative for a second time. The new guidelines would recommend “heightened surveillance” for an additional 90 days, to take into account the potential for sexual transmission and hidden transmission chains.