- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2015

A new analysis has revealed that limited airborne transmission of the Ebola virus is “very likely,” though only through such mechanisms as sneezing or coughing on someone, not general passage through environmental air as, for example, happens with flu.

“It is very likely that at least some degree of Ebola virus transmission currently occurs via infectious aerosols generated from the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory tract, or medical procedures, although this has been difficult to definitively demonstrate or rule out, since those exposed to infectious aerosols also are most likely to be in close proximity to, and in direct contact with, an infected case,” according to recent scientific analysis published in mBio, a journal of the American Society of Microbiology.

In September, the lead author of the new study, Michael Osterholm, published an op-ed — condemned by some — indicating that airborne transmission Ebola is a possibility.

“There was almost a rush to ensure the public that we knew a lot more than we did,” Mr. Osterholm told The Washington Post in an interview Wednesday. “But we’re saying you can’t rule out respiratory transmission.”

However, in Mr. Osterholm’s analysis, “Transmission of Ebola Viruses: What We Know and What We Do Not Know,” it is clear that Ebola is most frequently transmitted via infected bodily fluids.

Dr. William Schaffner, who specializes in infectious diseases at Vanderbilt Medical Center, said that airborne transmission of Ebola may be possible from as few as three or four feet, but that such transmission had never been seen in humans, reports the Washington Post.

A Liberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan, came to the U.S. and was diagnosed with Ebola. He later died, but not before infecting two nurses who tended to him in a Texas hospital.

The CDC did not suspect transmission of the virus was airborne.

In addition, as the survey notes, those sufficiently close to garner transmission in the possible airborne fashion likely are sufficiently close to get Ebola in other ways anyway.


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