NEW YORK – While Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization officials continue to insist Ebola cannot be transmitted by air from one person to another, an Army manual clearly warns the virus could be an airborne threat in certain circumstances.
The handbook published by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, USAMRID, titled “USAMRID’s Medical Management of Biological Casualties Handbook,” is now in its seventh edition.
The most recent edition was published in 2011, with more than 100,000 copies distributed to military and civilian health-care providers around the world.
On page 117 of the handbook, in a chapter discussing “Viral Hemorrhagic Fever” (VHF), a category of viruses that includes Ebola, USAMRID says: “In several instances, secondary infections among contacts and medical personnel without direct body fluid exposure have been documented. These instances have prompted concern of a rare phenomenon of aerosol transmission of infection.”
Page 117 continues to specify: “Therefore, when VHF is suspected, additional infection control measures are indicated.”
USAMRID recommends the patient should be hospitalized in a private room with an adjoining anteroom to be used for donning and removing protective barriers, storage of supplies and decontamination of laboratory specimen containers.
WND recently reported the World Health Organization, in a largely overlooked media advisory email, admitted there are some circumstances in which the current strain of Ebola in West Africa can be transmitted through coughing or sneezing.
“Theoretically, wet and bigger droplets from a heavily infected individual, who has respiratory symptoms caused by other conditions or who vomits violently, could transmit the virus – over a short distance – to another nearby person,” the WHO Ebola situation assessment said.
“This could happen when virus-laden heavy droplets are directly propelled, by coughing or sneezing (which does not mean airborne transmission) onto the mucus membranes or skin with cuts or abrasions of another person.”
The USAMRID handbook recommends that for all VHF patients with significant cough, hemorrhaging or diarrhea, the hospital room should be a “negative-pressure isolation room” with six to 12 air exchanges, adequate to pump air out of the hospital room on a constant basis through bio-filters.
To make the point about airborne transmission of VHF viruses, including Ebola, USAMRID says all persons entering the patient’s room should wear double gloves, impermeable gowns with leg and shoe coverings for contact isolation, eye protection and HEPA (N-95) masks or positive-pressure air-purifying respirators (PARRS).
In the absence of a large, fixed medical-treatment facility, or in the event of an overwhelming number of casualties when isolation rooms may not be available for all patients, USAMRID recommends that at a minimum, VHF patients should stay together in “a ward with an air-handling system separate from the rest of the building when feasible.”
The manual notes that clinical laboratory personnel are “at significant risk for exposure” and should employ a bio-safety cabinet when available, with barrier and respiratory precautions when handling specimens.
‘We have to consider the possibility’
Dr. David Sanders, a top Ebola virologist and Purdue University professor of biological science appeared on Fox News on Monday to discuss his research suggesting Ebola can be an airborne virus.
“Our own research shows that Ebola Zaire enters human lung cells from the airway side. So it has the inherent capacity to enter the lung from the airway,” he said.
“I’m not saying that there’s any evidence that the current spread is due to anything but bodily fluid contact, but we have to consider the possibility that it can enter through an airway route.”