Posted by Nelson Dafe, Benin City | 16 September 2014 | 3,021 times
A public health expert has warned that the dreaded Ebola disease could become airborne, making it possible for people to contract it by just breathing.
At the moment, Ebola can only be got through contact with bodily fluids,
Writing an op-ed for The New York Times, Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, discussed a possibility that he said “virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering in private: that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air.”
In the piece titled ‘What we are afraid to say about Ebola. Dr Osterholm wrote:
“Viruses like Ebola are notoriously sloppy in replicating, meaning the virus entering one person may be genetically different from the virus entering the next. The current Ebola virus’s hyper-evolution is unprecedented; there has been more human-to-human transmission in the past four months than most likely occurred in the last 500 to 1,000 years. Each new infection represents trillions of throws of the genetic dice.”
Continuing, he said: “If certain mutations occurred, it would mean that just breathing would put one at risk of contracting Ebola.
“Infections could spread quickly to every part of the globe, as the H1N1 influenza virus did in 2009, after its birth in Mexico.”
Dr Osterholm is of the opinion that public officials have not been speaking of this frightening possibility so that they are not accused of scare-mongering.
There have been more than 4,300 cases and 2,300 deaths over the past six months.
Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are the countries that have been worst hit by Ebola.
•Photo shows Dr Osterholm.
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