Ebola Is Airborne? Army Research Raises Airborne And Aerosol Transmission Questions

Airborne Ebola concerns and conflicting reports on the matter have been making nationwide headlines since Thomas Eric Duncan brought the deadly virus to the United States. An old report by scientists at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease (USAMRIID) recently resurfaced and appears to shed more light on the possible airborne and aerosol transmission of the Ebola virus.

The 1995 Ebola airborne study is entitled, “Lethal Experimental Infections of Rhesus Monkeys by Aerosolized Ebola Virus”. The U.S. Army Ebola study reportedly indicates that Ebola has not likely spread through the air in “Equatorial Africa” because the humidity rarely drops below 65 degrees and the region is extremely warm. “Ebola virus sensitivity to the high temperatures and humidity in the thatched, mud, and wattle huts shared by infected family members in southern Sudan and northern Zaire may have been a factor limiting aerosol transmission of Ebola virus in the African epidemics,” the USAMRIID report said.

According to the airborne Ebola report, both the humidity and the “elevated temperature” reduce the “aerosol stability” of the virus. The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease Ebola virus report cited the 1989 Ebola outbreak at a Reston, Virginia primate quarantine facility. The virus reportedly spread rapidly between the monkeys which were housed in unconnected rooms.

“While infections in adjacent cages may have occurred by droplet contact, infections in distant cages suggests aerosol transmission, as evidence of direct physical contact with an infected source could not be established,” the USAMRIID report added. During the 1989 Ebola outbreak the temperatures were reportedly unseasonably low in Reston Virginia. If statistics regarding the weather at time are accurate, it was below freezing outdoors – but the primate center was heated to an unknown degree.

The “A Characterization of Aerosolized Sudan Virus Infection in African Green Monkeys, Cynomologus Macaques and Rhesus Macaques” study also conducted by the Army research center in 2012 said, “There is no strong evidence of secondary transmission by the aerosol route in African filovirus outbreaks; however, aerosol transmission is thought to be possible and may occur in conditions of lower temperature and humidity which may not have been factors in outbreaks in warmer climates.”

Filoviruses, which reportedly include both the Ebola virus and the Sudan virus used during the study, have a “stability in aerosol form” which is comparable to that of influenza. “Filoviruses in aerosol form are therefore considered a possible, serious threat to the health and safety of the public,” the Ebola study concluded. In 2013, the Pentagon organized a Filovirus Medical Countermeasures Workshop with the Department of Health and Human Services. “The DoD seeks a trivalent filovirus vaccine that is effective against aerosol exposure and protective against filovirus disease for at least one year,” a workshop executive summary memo reportedly stated.

As Dr. Joe Alton previously told The Inquisitr, Ebola is not a hardy virus, it does not like to live in water or in cold climates. Dr. Alton, a Mensa member, is also known widely as “Dr. Bones.” He just finished writing The Ebola Survival Handbook, which will be available on Amazon on October 27. “Aerosol transmission probably won’t last more than 90-120 minutes suspended in the air. Some Ebola aerosol transmission studies indicate the virus could last up to several hours in the air and on hard surfaces such as gas pumps, ATM keyboards, chairs, and the like,” Dr. Bones added.

dr bones and nurse amy

While the spread of the virus via contact with contaminated hard surfaces may likely decrease at the thermometer drops, the Army airborne Ebola report may indicate that the virus can thrive indoors when humidity and intense heat are not present.

Do you think Ebola is airborne? Are you concerned about Ebola aerosol transmissions?

[Image via: Peta Asia Pacific]