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Written by: Vester Gravley on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 Posted in:

Things That Should Keep Us Up At Night

A New York Times Op-Ed piece by public health scientist and nationally recognized biosecurity expert Michael Osterholm, identifies two catastrophic, plague-like possible futures for the current West African Ebola epidemic among the things that should keep up us at night. The first, the virus spreads via air travel to megacities in the developing world. The second, one that “virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering in private that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air.” After noting that “the current Ebola virus’s hyper-evolution is unprecedented, there has been more human-to-human transmission in the past four months than most likely what occurred in the last 500 to 1,000 years. Each new infection represents trillions of throws of the genetic dice.” He goes on to cite a 2012 Canadian study wherein researchers bore out that Ebola Zaire “could be transmitted by the respiratory route from pigs to monkeys”. He concludes, “We must consider that such transmissions could happen between humans, if the virus mutates.”

And most recently, according to the New York Post from October 29, the CDC had recently released on their website a poster maintaining the virus can be transmitted via droplets! “Droplet spread happens when germs traveling inside droplets that are coughed or sneezed from a sick person into the eyes, nose or mouth of another person,” was written on the CDC poster. Consequently, experts cited in the Post article assert, “Ebola is a lot easier to catch than health officials have admitted – and can be contracted by contact with a doorknob contaminated by a sneeze from an infected person an hour or more before.”

If we’re ever going to get the drop on Ebola, the attitude expressed in the Bourne Ultimatum by Pamela Landy toward Jason Bourne, certainly applies; “Listen, people – do you have any idea who you’re dealing with? This is Ebola. You are nine hours behind the toughest target you have ever tracked. Now I want everyone to sit down, strap in, and turn on all you’ve got. That would mean now.”