Airborne Transmission of Ebola

The public has been misinformed regarding human-to-human transmission of Ebola. Assurances that Ebola can be transmitted only through direct contact with bodily fluids need to be seriously scrutinized in the wake of the West Africa outbreak.

The Canadian Health Department states that airborne transmission of Ebola is strongly suspected and the CDC admits that Ebola can be transmitted in situations where there is no physical contact between people, i.e.: via direct airborne inhalation into the lungs or into the eyes, or via contact with airborne fomites which adhere to nearby surfaces. That helps explain why 81 doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers have died in West Africa to date. These courageous healthcare providers use careful CDC-level barrier precautions such as gowns, gloves, and head cover, but it appears they have inadequate respiratory and eye protection. Dr. Michael V. Callahan, an infectious disease specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital who has worked in Africa during Ebola outbreaks said that minimum CDC level precautions

“led to the infection of my nurses and physician co-workers who came in contact with body fluids.”

Currently the CDC advises healthcare workers to use goggles and simple face masks for respiratory and eye protection, and a fitted N-95 mask during aerosol-generating medical procedures. Since so many doctors and nurses are dying in West Africa, it is clear that this level of protection is inadequate. Full face respirators with P-100 (HEPA) replacement filters would provide greater airway and eye protection, and I believe this would save the lives of many doctors, nurses, and others who come into close contact with, or in proximity to, Ebola victims.