Ebola, _POSSIBLE_ international outbreak

David P. Frazier frazier at mbcrr.harvard.edu
Mon May 15 08:26:21 EST 1995

In article <dbach.168.00287FBC at julian.uwo.ca>, dbach at julian.uwo.ca (Ben) wrote:

> In article <3p3po1$o07 at nntp3.u.washington.edu> aurelia at u.washington.edu
(A. M. Lotto) writes:
> >  Just because they travelled on a 
> >commercial flight does not mean(even if they are infected) that anyone 
> >else will get it. 
> Statements on this group say that the Ebola was Aerosol propelled (i.e 
> coughing can spread it) so that means that there is a fair chance that it 
> would be spread on a plane.   For the same reason there is a good chance they 
> were infected.   
>                 -DB

While rampant speculation on the dangers of Ebola aerosols is amusing in a
manner similar to telling ghost stories around a campfire, such speculation
has little grounding in truth.  A recent issue of Morbidity and Mortality
Weekly Report (a CDC publication of infectious disease outbreaks) described
a study of transmission of a known airborne pathogen, tuberculosis,
from actively infected individuals to other passengers on airliners.  The 
results suggest that while such transmission can occur, it is not likely, and
appears to be limited to passengers seated in the immediate area surrounding
the infected individual.  With this in mind, it seems unlikely that a
non-airborne pathogen, such as Ebola, would be transmitted to other
on a commercial flight.

David Frazier
Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
Harvard Medical School

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