As long as a patient hasn’t developed symptoms, the risk of contagion is close to zero. Ebola is not an airborne virus like the flu.
For more on this read: Ebola virus may be spread by droplets, but not by an airborne route: what that means.
As long as an infected person is not symptomatic, they are essentially not contagious. Those riding in an airplane or a subway car with an infected, but not symptomatic person, are said to be at essentially no risk. Without the exchange of bodily fluids, there is absolutely no risk of infection.
Unfortunately, the word airborne has other meanings independent from the technical one. Airborne when used by the average person in day-to-day conversation may simply mean propelled through the air, as in: the car went airborne and hit an embankment. An airborne car can travel surprisingly far -- a hundred feet or more.
Most of us would consider big, Ebola-contaminated, droplets propelled through the air by a violently ill patient as being briefly airborne. One can become infected by the Ebola virus by coming in contact with these large, violently expelled droplets. For this reason, medical personnel need to be completely protected. No exposed skin, eyes protected by goggles. Face masks must meet strict standards. And no quibbling over the use of the word airborne.
The following Public Health Agency of Canada bulletin may have been removed from the Web and the posting changed because of the non-technical use of the word "airborne." Personally, I don't think health care workers and others working in close proximity to an Ebola patient want a lecture on the technical meaning of "airborne". They want protection.
If the word airborne adds confusion to a life and death situation, let's use caution when using it. Let's aim for clarity as well as accuracy. Lives depend up it.
The above quote is from a pathogen safety data sheet once available from the Public Health Agency of Canada. I understand the sheet has now been modified. I found the sheet containing the warning in the Wayback Machine Internet archives.
Ebola is deadly. Depending upon the strain and other factors it kills anywhere from 25 percent up to 90 percent of those infected. Front-line healthcare workers are at great risk. With two nurses in Texas having now having tested positive for Ebola, it appears the protocols in place in Texas were not up to the standard set by groups with experience fighting Ebola, such as Doctors Without Borders.
A Canadian expert is warning that healthcare personal, nurses for instance, are not being given adequate life-saving protection. Read the story in The London Free Press, the daily paper in London, Ontario, Canada. The experience in Texas seems to give credence to this expert's warning.
Add:Today (Oct. 20th) the Associated Press is carrying a story reporting "revised guidance for health care workers treating Ebola patients. As of now, health care workers will be using protective gear "with no skin showing."
The article also makes clear hospital officials admit masks covering the nose and mouth were originally optional for nurses and others caring for Ebola patients. This may have been partially a result of a misunderstanding caused by the use of the word "airborne" in the warnings about the transmission routes taken by the disease.
Ebola is spread through direct contact with infected bodily fluids. The virus begins its attack by entering the body through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth.
- blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola.
Taking the subway in New York? Relax. You're not going to catch Ebola. It is healthcare workers and not subway riders who need to be on guard.
Test your Ebola knowledge. Follow the link.
The following was posted by the CDC but has been taken down for modification. The story was carried by Huffington Post.
What’s the difference between infections
spread through the air or by droplets?
Airborne spread happens when a germ floats through the air after a
person talks, coughs, or sneezes. Germs may land in the eyes, mouth, or
nose of another person.
>If a germ is airborne, direct contact with the infected person is NOT
needed for someone else to get sick. Airborne spread diseases include:
Droplet spread happens when germs traveling inside droplets that are
coughed or sneezed from a sick person enter the eyes, nose, or mouth of
another person. Droplets travel short distances, less than 3 feet (1 meter)
from one person to another.
A person might also get infected by touching a surface or object that has
germs on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
Droplet spread diseases include: plague, Ebola.
How do I protect myself from getting sick?
• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are
not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Cover your cough! Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when
you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Germs spread this way.
• Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces like doorknobs,
faucet handles, and toys, since the Ebola virus may live on surfaces for
up to several hours.
Is Ebola airborne?
No. Ebola is not spread through the airborne route nor through water or food.
Is Ebola spread through droplets?
Yes. To get Ebola, you have to directly get body fluids (like pee, poop, spit, sweat, vomit, semen, breast milk) from
someone who has Ebola in your mouth, nose, eyes or through a break in your skin or through sexual contact.
Healthcare providers caring for Ebola patients and the family and friends in close contact with Ebola>
patients are at the highest risk of getting sick because they may come in contact with infected blood or
body fluids of sick patients.
Air, food, and water do not carry the Ebola germs.
CS252291-A 10.27.2014 07:54AM
Droplets can contaminate objects
Ebola is spread through droplets.
>Germs like chickpox and TB are
spread through the air.
CS252291-A 10.27.2014 07:54AM
Droplets can contaminate objects