Not in my opinion. Ebola is not spread through the air like infuenza or SARS. It requires very close contact with body fluids to become infected. People infected with Ebola can only transmit the disease to others when they are very ill and unlikely to be able to get on a plane.
Outbreaks of ebola happen when a person is infected by contact with an infected animal. Bats are known to be one of the animals that can transmit the infection. But you have to come in contact with body fluids or tissues from the animal. Once a person is infected with ebola from an animal, they can then transmit the infection to other humans and that's how an outbreak starts. At this point we don't think insects serve as a source of ebola.
In natural settings, outside of lab experiments, most strains of Ebola have not been shown to transmit via the airborne route. Ebola Reston, the subject of the book The Hot Zone, may have some ability to transmit via the airborne route, but that has not been definitively established.
I think we need to be cautious about whether it was the treatment that resulted in the improving condition of the two patients. While it would be fantastic if that were the case it is important to keep in mind that in this outbreak at least 40% of the infected patients survive without any antibody treatment. We may never know whether the ZMapp was the reason these two patients survived or not. In regard to clinical trials yes I do think it will move into phase I clinical trials and hopefully with the increased awareness about Ebola this will happen sooner than it would have before the outbreak.
There is no evidence that consuming raw or undercooked meat or poultry which is inspected in the US can transmit the virus. Fruit bats, antelope, porcupines that are caught and eaten in Ebola-endemic areas in West Africa are at risk for transmitting the Ebola virus. It is always recommended to thoroughly cook and clean all meat and poultry prior to serving as a general public health measure to reduce the incidence of food borne disease.
Even though the virus can be transmitted by kissing or sex, people with Ebola symptoms are so sick that they’re not typically taking part in those behaviors. So yes, it's possible but highly unlikely, and remember someone isn't contagious unless they have symptoms of ebola.
When dealing with individuals who have traveled from countries experiencing Ebola outbreaks, it is important that if they develop fever during the 21-day incubation period they be assessed for the possibility of Ebola infection. As Ebola is not very contagious, hygiene with respect to blood and bodily fluids is the most important action to take.
It is thought that fruit bats in Africa are the reservoir host in nature. So they can carry the virus and shed it without becoming sick. It is possible that there are other species that also are involved with maintaining Ebola in nature but to date bats are the only known reservoir.
At this time, any student with travel to West Africa in the past 3 weeks, who develops fever, flu like symptoms along with vomiting and diarrhea needs to be isolated. Schools are taking precautions to take a concise travel history for any student who may develop a summer “flu” with GI symptoms (nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea).
Once someone has recovered and no longer has symptoms of ebola, they are not contagious. At that point, they would have developed an adequate immune response to the virus. So a man who has recovered from ebola would no longer transmit the virus.
From what has been published, it appears that this outbreak began in March of 2014 after a single introduction (i.e. one infected individual) in Guinea. There is also research that shows that this virus may have been circulating in west Africa for several years unnoticed before this outbreak occurred.
There are currently several antiviral compounds in trials right now that are promising. However, antivirals are often virus-specific and not useful against other viruses. For example, influenza antivirals treat influenza and not herpes. However, research into Ebola antivirals really accelerate until the Anthrax attacks of 2001 spurred research into all the potential bioterrorist agents.
Yes, the early symptoms of Ebola are flu-like in the first 1-2 days and do include sudden fever sore throat weakness. GI symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting typically develop. Simply sneezing or coughing is not an overt concern for someone who may be close by to you. Ebola patients are quite ill, on the other hand and look visibly sick. It is more likely that someone has influenza or malaria or cholera as opposed to Ebola in this setting.
A few factors make this current outbreak of Ebola the biggest one and include the fact that this is the 1st time the virus has been noted in West Africa, there are major difficulties in public health communication, and that the epicenter is in a three-nation border area.
Once a person is infected, it can take 2 to 21 days to develop symptoms. Once symptoms develop, death, if it happens, usually occurs in 1 to 2 weeks. In the current outbreak, about 60% of infected people have died. So that means 40% of people haven't died.
Travel history is the most important part of the history in assessing risk for Ebola, combined with symptoms including fever, diarrhea, and vomiting. Without a history of being in contact with a patient with Ebola or suspected Ebola, it is highly unlikely that a student would be at risk for Ebola. The student should be given a mask, and referred to the closest emergency department for further evaluation.
Though Ebola can’t be spread via casual contact, the current outbreak is so large because individuals are being exposed to blood and body fluids in healthcare settings as well as when preparing the deceased for burial. Using appropriate personal protective equipment and practicing good hygiene are essential. Compliance with health recommendations in West Africa has been suboptimal and is hampering the ability to control this outbreak.
I recommend washing your hands thoroughly and practicing good hygiene not to touch your eyes mouth or nose. If you do have any open skin or cuts, make sure you keep them covered while traveling in a plane or bus. If you are in a restroom in a plane and notice that the bathroom is soiled, take special precautions not to touch that area, and alert any flight attendant to disinfect the area.