Letter to the Editor

Ebola transmission needs further probe

Dear editor,
There are certain concerns that I wish to point out about Ebola transmission.
What we know is that Ebola is transmitted through bodily fluids coming in contact with the mucosal surface of our body, for example when someone’s fluids are rubbed into eyes, or it comes in contact with nasal mucosal surface or someone inhails large droplets when sneezing or the virus permeates the mucosal surface during sex.
So, basically we are talking of fluids coming in direct contact with mucosal surface or cuts in the skin. Since intact skin does not permeate any pathogen like viruses or bacteria, it is our innate protection.
My concern is that, why is it that so many healthcare providers, despite taking regular precautions, still contract ebola.
Health care providers take precautions when handling patients and it is highly unlikely for them to contact bodily fluids and then rub their eyes or nose? My gut feeling is that it could be that transmission is also occurring through air, otherwise there is no way transmissions could continue to occur at this alarming rate.
Though in nature it is unlikely for the mode of transmission to change its course, perhaps Ebola could be an exception.
In theory a single amino acid in the viral genome could cause change in transmission mode, and probably in the case of Ebola the virus also binds to our respiratory tract to make it airborne.
We don’t know, but the statistics of Ebola infection rates point in that direction.
The WHO and CDC should do more research into this, as some studies have shown that airborne transmissions have taken place between pigs and monkeys.
SAMUEL KUMAR
Zambia AIDS Research Foundation

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