Nigerian health officials have confirmed that as many as 30,000 people may now be at risk of contracting Ebola from one American man who died after boarding a flight from Liberia to Nigeria. Reports indicate that fears of a global pandemic are now “justified” due to the incident, as this particular mutation of Ebola appears to have the capacity to cross international borders via air travel.
The worst outbreak ever recorded, this latest Ebola scare was amplified after Patrick Sawyer, a 40-year-old man from Minnesota,collapsed and died upon arriving in Nigeria. Sawyer, a naturalized U.S. citizen native to Liberia, had been scheduled to fly back to the U.S. on August 16 to celebrate the birthdays of two of his three daughters.
But flu-like symptoms that later turned out to be Ebola ended up taking his life before this could happen, spreading fears of a global pandemic currently in the works. Sawyer had reportedly been tending to an ill sister of his in Liberia who, as it turned out, had Ebola herself. But this was not known until after she died, and after Sawyer himself had contracted the disease.
Since its emergence late last fall, this latest Ebola outbreak has already taken a confirmed total of 700 lives. And since it can take weeks for Ebola symptoms to emerge, many more are likely infected, including some individuals who may have flown from areas of Africa where the disease is wiping out entire villages to areas around the U.S.
Disease spread pattern indicates Ebola can be airborne
U.S. officials remain insistent that Ebola isn’t a significant threat to Americans, and that it can only spread through bodily fluids. But what the public isn’t being told is that Ebola can be airborne when micro-droplet fluids containing it are suspended in the air, such as when an infected person sneezes or coughs, and it can even be transmitted when someone sweats through clothing onto furniture or sweats through hands onto a door handle.
This is why health officials attempted to check the passenger manifests for the ASKY Airlines flights that Sawyer was on, as well as the 15 people with whom he is believed to have come into contact while at the airport. All of these people could have been exposed to Ebola from airborne transmission, even though most of them probably didn’t have any actual physical contact with Sawyer.
Further evidence of Ebola’s airborne transmission potential was outlined in a 2012 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature. Researchers discovered that Ebola had transferred from one cage of pigs to another cage of macaque monkeys without direct contact. Though the exact mode of transfer was not determined, airborne transmission via contaminated fluid vapor or micro-droplets is believed to be the most likely explanation.
Obama to bring African leaders from Ebola countries into U.S. for summit
Despite this obvious threat, the Obama Administration has announced that a planned African Leaders Summit, which will include leaders from three countries being hit hardest by the Ebola outbreak — Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone — will still take place at the White HouseAugust 4-6, 2014.
The White House is also moving forward with plans to bring two American aid workers who contracted Ebola while in Africa back to the U.S. to be with their families. Such a move puts the entire country at risk.
It was also reported that a woman traveling from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Phoenix, Arizona, on a U.S. Airways flight recently died after suddenly losing consciousness. Though her actual cause of death has not been publicly released, the woman’s symptoms appear to resemble Sawyer’s.
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