CDC Director Tom Frieden speaking to a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Ebola virus
NEW YORK – A group of German medical doctors in a peer-reviewed medical journal article published by Oxford University Press have challenged a key assumption regarding the Ebola virus repeatedly asserted by Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
The researchers found that a patient showing no symptoms of the disease can still transmit a virus like Ebola by air if droplets containing the virus are transmitted to another person by a sneeze or cough.
As WND reported Tuesday, the World Health Organization has admitted that “wet and bigger droplets from a heavily infected individual, who has respiratory symptoms caused by other conditions or who vomits violently could transmit the Ebola virus over a short distance to another nearby person.”
WHO said it could happen when “virus-laden heavy droplets are directly propelled, by coughing or sneezing onto the mucus membranes or skin with cuts or abrasions of another person.”
Still, WHO added a qualification, insisting the transmission of Ebola by sneezing or coughing is not within its definition of airborne transmission.
News broke Wednesday morning that the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., Thomas Eric Duncan, had died in Dallas. The victim’s home neighborhood in the Liberian capital, meanwhile, remained under quarantine.
Later Wednesday, a Texas sheriff’s deputy was rushed to the hospital in Frisco, Texas, with Ebola symptoms after delivering a quarantine notice to the apartment where Duncan was staying.
WND reported Wednesday Liberia is preventing journalists from reporting Ebola-related stories from health care centers in the country unless they obtain written permission from the government. The news came as the World Health Organization issued a statement warning that the officially reported decline in new cases in Liberia over the past three weeks “is unlikely to be genuine,” because problems with data gathering continue.
‘Not easily detected’
The German physicians, led by Dr. Timm H. Westhoff of the Department of Nephrology at the Carité Campus Benjamin Franklin in Berlin, noted in a virology blog published Feb. 12, 2009, that acute viral infections such as Ebola hemorrhagic fever may cause little or no clinical symptoms in a so-called “inapparent infection” yet may be contagious.
“A well-known example is poliovirus: over 90% are without infections,” Westhoff and his colleagues continued. “During an inapparent infection, sufficient virus replication occurs in the host to induce antiviral antibodies, but not enough to cause disease. Such infections are important for the spread of infection, because they are not easily detected.”
Westhoff and his colleagues then made the key point that individuals with an inapparent infection, showing no symptoms, can yet spread diseases such as polio.
“During the height of the polio epidemic in the United States, the quarantine of paralyzed patients had no effect on the spread of the disease, because 99 percent of the infected individuals had no symptoms and were leading normal lives spreading infection.”
Westhoff and his colleagues also discussed the risk of spreading Ebola by sneezing or coughing.
“An example of a classic acute infection is uncomplicated influenza,” the medical doctors noted. “Virus particles are inhaled in droplets produced by sneezing or coughing, and begin replicating in ciliated columnar epithelial cells of the respiratory tract. As new infectious virions are produced, they spread to neighboring cells.”
The point was clear: “Inapparent infections probably are important features of pathogens that are well-adapted to their hosts. They replicate sufficiently to endure the spread to new hosts, but not enough to damage the host and prevent transmission.”
Written by JEROME R. CORSI
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