The current Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is being called the worst in history as an estimated 700 people have died so far. The virus has spread to four African countries and now the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a warning against travel to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and now Nigeria. The Nigerian alert comes on the heels of the death of Patrick Sawyer, a naturalized US citizen who died of Ebola in Lagos, Nigeria.
This past week, Emory Healthcare announced that one of two Americans who contracted the virus will be treated in Atlanta, Georgia. Now word comes that both patients will be treated at Emory University Hospital in a special isolation unit. The American public has been told that the virus can only be contracted by contact with the bodily fluid of the infected patient and even President Obama said as much during a Friday press conference. The United States is holding the US-Africa Leader’s Summit in Washington, DC and many of the participants come from areas where the virus is present. The summit is the first of its kind ever held in the United States.
But the research of Dr. Gary Kobinger of the National Microbiology Laboratory at the Public Health Agency of Canada is a cause for concern. He told the BBC News in 2012 that he believed the infection was spread through large droplets that were suspended in the air. Kobinger is quoted as saying, “What we suspect is happening is large droplets; they can stay in the air, but not long; they don’t go far. But they can be absorbed in the airway, and this is how the infection starts, and this is what we think, because we saw a lot of evidence in the lungs of the non-human primates that the virus got in that way.”
The Ebola strain that is ravaging West Africa is not Ebola Zaire that scared the world almost 30 years ago. This is a new strain of Ebola that the world is currently witnessing. In early 2014, the New England Journal of Medicine reported the preliminary findings of 30 researchers who concluded the emergence of a new strain of Ebola. There is mounting concern that this strain may be airborne; however, the medical definition of airborne is what is stopping public health officials from declaring this strain as having this capacity.
The video below gives a frightening look at Ebola: