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PLOS Science Wednesday: Hi Reddit, we’re Jessie Abbate, Carmen Lia Murall and Christian Althaus, and we developed a mathematical model showing the sexual transmission of Ebola could prolong the epidemic in West Africa – Ask Us Anything!
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Hi Reddit, We are Jessie Abbate, Carmen Lia Murall, and Christian Althaus, infectious disease researchers collaborating between France (Research Institute for Development), Switzerland (University of Bern), and Germany (Max Planck Institute). Collectively, our work focuses on the epidemiology, ecology, and evolution of pathogens, including human viral infections. We recently published a study entitled “Potential Impact of Sexual Transmission on Ebola Virus Epidemiology: Sierra Leone as a Case Study” in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. Recent observations show that Ebola virus can remain active and transmissible in sperm for up to 9 months, meaning patients can remain infectious after they recover from the initial symptomatic phase of the disease. We developed a mathematical model to study the potential impact of sexual transmission on the size and duration of Ebola outbreaks such as the 2013-2016 epidemic in West Africa. Using the epidemiological data from Sierra Leone as an example, we found that despite very few additional cases, sexual transmission from survivors could extend the duration of the epidemic substantially, allowing cases to continue popping up throughout 2016 and highlighting the need for care providers to stay alert for this possibility. We will be responding to questions from 1pm EDT (10 am PDT) – Ask Us Anything! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @jessieabbate @cl_murall @c_althaus.