Dear SuzyKnew!, Can I get Ebola from sex or intimate contact with an infected person that does not have symptoms? What if I kissed someone at a club and then he or she come down with Ebola a week later? Would I get it? BTW- this didn’t happen, I’m just wondering if it could happen.
There is a lot we don’t know about Ebola, mostly because it has not been studied in a controlled environment with enough cases. What we do know is scary for a lot of people.
Ebola is most frequently transmitted through the feces, blood or vomit of a person who is very sick, exhibiting high fever and other intense symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. The CDC guidance says that a person is only infectious once they exhibit symptoms. That is why the infections we have seen outside of the affected countries in West Africa are among healthcare workers or travelers from endemic areas who have taken care of very sick individuals as they are dying.
One thing that we do not know is how long the Ebola virus remains in the body if or when a person survives the infection. There simply have not been enough studies to answer this. There are several studies that have shown that Ebola virus can persist in semen for longer than in blood or other body fluids (the estimate is up to 100 days). However, according to the CDC, sexual transmission of Ebola has not been definitively established. But, to be on the safe side, the CDC has recommended that patients that recover from Ebola abstain from sex (including oral sex) for 3 months.
Similarly, Ebola virus has been detected in breast milk, but that information is based on a single patient. Therefore, there is not enough evidence to provide guidance to mothers on when they can safety resume breastfeeding.
You asked specifically about kissing. Although there are very few studies on Ebola transmissions through other routes: sweat, semen, vaginal fluid, saliva, tears, breast milk, etc.., we do know for certain that Ebola can be spread through the saliva of an infected person. So my message to you is: if someone appears sick- don’t get intimate with them. It’s unlikely that they have Ebola, but they may have another virus that will make you ill.
This is a good time to check in on your health in general. Practice healthy habits to keep your body strong, such as good diet, exercise, get your annual flu shot, and stay calm.