Persistence of Ebola virus RNA in some body fluids of Ebola virus disease (EVD) survivors – the Nigerian experience

  • O.B. Salu
  • A.B. James
  • W.B. Mutiu
  • I.A. Abdus-Salam
  • I. Isibor
  • B.O. Oke
  • M.A. Bankole
  • M.R. Orenolu
  • R.A. Anyanwu
  • M.A. Abdullah
  • W.B. GBadamosi
  • A. Bowale
  • O.T. Dawodu
  • A.O. Ettu
  • F.C. Umenze
  • A.S. Opawoye
  • O.O. Akinbode
  • Y.J. Newton
  • J. Idris
  • F.T. Ogunsola
  • A. Osibogun
  • A. Nasidi
  • S.A. Omilabu


Introduction: Ebola virus (EBOV) has been shown to persist in some body fluids of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) survivors with implication for future transmission particularly in Nigeria where EVD was experienced for the first time in 2014. Thus, this paper was aimed at providing information on the duration of persistence of EBOV in Nigeria.

Materials and Methods: Ten consenting EVD survivors were enrolled. Baseline specimens; urine and semen (males), urine and high vaginal swab (HVS) (females) were obtained within one month after discharge from the Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC) and subsequently every fortnight. Samples were analyzed using quantitative Real-Star Filovirus Screen RT-PCR kit 1.0 at the National Reference Laboratory in Lagos.

Results: Ten EVD survivors comprising 4 (40%) males and 6 (60%) females with age ranges of 28 to >33 years (mean age: 33.0 ± 6.9 years) were evaluated. EBOV RNA was not detected in the urine of all the participants and HVS from the females. However, EBOV RNA was detected in the semen of all 4 (100%) male participants at baseline, and at 2 months after discharge from the ETC. Two men were still positive for EBOV RNA 4 months after discharge from the ETC despite persistent negative vireamia.

Conclusions: Our data confirm that a negative viremia in the convalescent period is not predictive of the absence of the virus in semen. Despite an early clearance of the virus from the urine and HVS, there was persistence of EBOV RNA in semen of male survivors 4 months after recovery.


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eISSN: 0012-835X