Unfortunately, Sierra Leone is not the only place where Ebola is picking up again: Liberia detected a new Ebola case on June 29, the first since March 20! According to media sources, a 17-year-old boy had died the day before and a routine test revealed that he had died of Ebola. This came pretty much unexpected and accordingly the number of contact persons is high. The number of new cases had risen to 7 in total. More than 100 people are quarantined.
What is still unknown though is how Ebola could “hide” for more than 3 months. The chain of transmission is still a mystery. According to WHO, it could have been sexual transmission. Because Ebola was detected only after the teenager has passed away, it’s difficult to reconstruct the line of transmission. To find out more, WHO conducted genetic sequencing of the virus that killed the teenager. It turned out to be similar to a strain of Ebola that was detected in Liberia end of last year and this makes a cross-border transmission from Sierra Leone or Guinea very unlikely. The only possibilities seem to be a chain of asymptomatic cases or transmission through a survivor.
Considering all this I want to bring up a “taboo” here in this area of Western Africa: It is unclear yet if female survivors can transmit the virus, and so it was thought that men are more or less “on the safe side”. But what about homosexual men? They are probably at the highest risk, just like with HIV. I never heard this being discussed in public. The few local colleagues I know well enough to ask them about their position on homosexuality looked at it more as a sickness and definitely as being “wrong”. So addressing homosexual men as a high risk group for Ebola is a difficult task – but urgently needed from my point of view. Reuters reported:
“In May, Archbishop Lewis Zeigler of the Catholic Church of Liberia said that „one of the major transgressions against God for which He may be punishing Liberia is the act of homosexuality.”
Maybe it’s better to leave some chains of transmission in the dark – for the sake of the victim.