A recent column, published by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, or CIDRAP, warns that it might be possible for the Ebola virus to be transmitted through exhaled breath.
Minneapolis news station KARE reports that the column, co-authored by University of Illinois-Chicago professors Dr. Lisa Brosseau and Dr. Rachael Jones, argues that current safety protocols for healthcare workers may not adequately protect them.
Brousseau claims in the column that she believes “there is scientific and epidemiologic evidence that Ebola virus has the potential to be transmitted via infectious aerosol particles both near and at a distance from infected patients.”
That means healthcare workers, caring for Ebola victims, should be wearing powered air-purifying respirators rather than simple surgical masks, Brousseau argues.
That could be a problem for West African countries with struggling economies, like Liberia, where the disease is spreading.
The type of respirator, with a full hood and face mask, recommended by Brousseau, carries a price of over $400, according to Breitbart News. That is contrasted with the 65 cent price tag on the surgical masks being used now by most workers.
News that the virus could potentially be spread by air stands in contrast to remarks from U.S. President Barack Obama who recently sought to calm the nerves of those who feared becoming infected.
“Here's what we know about Ebola. It is not like the flu. It is not airborne. The only way a person can contract Ebola is by coming into direct contact with the body fluids by someone showing symptoms,” Obama said.
That has also been the claim of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, but Brousseau said in an interview Wednesday those claims are unfounded.
"They (CDC and WHO) speak very loudly and say very strongly it isn't airborne but they don't offer a lot of support for that and I will tell you when I look for the data there is not a lot of data to support their contention that it isn't an aerosol transmissible disease,” she said.