Growing concerns over ‘in the air’ transmission of Ebola
Canadian scientists have shown that the deadliest form of the ebola virus could be transmitted by air between species.
In experiments, they demonstrated that the virus was transmitted from pigs to monkeys without any direct contact between them.
The researchers say they believe that limited airborne transmission might be contributing to the spread of the disease in some parts of Africa.
They are concerned that pigs might be a natural host for the lethal infection.
What we suspect is happening is large droplets - they can stay in the air, but not long, they don’t go far. But they can be absorbed in the airway”
Dr Gary Kobinger Public Health Agency of Canada
Ebola viruses cause fatal haemorrhagic fevers in humans and many other species of non human primates.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the infection gets into humans through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs and other bodily fluids from a number of species including chimpanzees, gorillas and forest antelope.
The fruit bat has long been considered the natural reservoir of the infection. But a growing body of experimental evidence suggests that pigs, both wild and domestic, could be a hidden source of Ebola Zaire - the most deadly form of the virus.
Now, researchers from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the country’s Public Health Agency have shown that pigs infected with this form of Ebola can pass the disease on to macaques without any direct contact between the species.