October 16, 2014
Ebola Airborne? Scientists Deny Ebola Is Airborne, But 'Aerosol Transmission' Is Still Dangerous

With Ebola airborne in the headlines but not in reality, many Americans are searching for Ebola symptoms and what their health may mean for their family. The majority of scientists are denying that Ebola is airborne technically, but others are still worried that a rare form of "aerosol transmission" can potentially infect people even without having contact with body fluids.

In a related report by The Inquisitr, even with scientists denying that Ebola is airborne, Ebola cases in Europe have also caused some consternation since several people have died and one Spanish nurse managed to contract the deadly disease from her patients while wearing a protective suit. Health officials are still trying to figure out what went wrong, making the possibility of having Ebola airborne seemingly more likely.

Fortunately, making Ebola airborne is not that easy based upon evolutionary theory. Scientists may discuss how rapidly the virus is mutating but the physical changes necessary to have the Ebola virus truly airborne are hardly trivial. First of all, making Ebola airborne would require the development of new surface proteins that would allow the virus to infect the tissues in the respiratory system necessary for the virus to be sent easily out via a sneeze or a cough. Even if that unlikely event were to occur, the lipid membrane (the surface shell) is apparently ineffective at protecting the virus at room temperatures.

This is where the technical differences with aerosol transmission become a factor. To say that Ebola is "airborne" in this manner means the virus has successfully managed to transfer to a new host by being embedded in a heavy droplet. To an unlucky victim with Ebola symptoms this scientific distinction may not matter much, but it should be a sigh of relief for the rest of the world since it dramatically limits the virus' ability to become a major plague to rival the Spanish flu, which killed millions.

Aerosol transmission is also not a new discovery. Back in 2011, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRID) issued a handbook called "USAMRID's Medical Management of Biological Casualties Handbook," One chapter discusses Viral Hemorrhagic Fever, which is how the Ebola virus is categorized. USAMRID claims to have seen Ebola airborne in the past.

"In several instances, secondary infections among contacts and medical personnel without direct body fluid exposure have been documented. These instances have prompted concern of a rare phenomenon of aerosol transmission of infection."
The World Health Organization also sent out an advisory that discussed the possibility of making Ebola airborne via contaminated fluids.
"Theoretically, wet and bigger droplets from a heavily infected individual, who has respiratory symptoms caused by other conditions or who vomits violently, could transmit the virus – over a short distance – to another nearby person. This could happen when virus-laden heavy droplets are directly propelled, by coughing or sneezing (which does not mean airborne transmission) onto the mucus membranes or skin with cuts or abrasions of another person."
Still, not everyone believes aerosol transmission is the only risk. Dr. David Sanders, an Ebola virologist and Purdue University professor of biological science, is claiming Ebola is airborne, although not exactly in the conventional sense.

"Our own research shows that Ebola Zaire enters human lung cells from the airway side. So it has the inherent capacity to enter the lung from the airway," he said on Fox News. "I'm not saying that there's any evidence that the current spread is due to anything but bodily fluid contact, but we have to consider the possibility that it can enter through an airway route."

All in all, making Ebola airborne is a task that has nature unable to bridge the gap. At this point, it seems more reasonable to believe that an artificial zombie virus could cause the end of the world rather than wait for those particular mutations to occur in nature. Even if Ebola is airborne due to a mutation, scientists have not discovered this version yet, which should put your fears to rest.