Airborne transmission of Ebola unlikely, monkey study shows | Science News


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Airborne transmission of Ebola unlikely, monkey study shows

No evidence found of macaques passing deadly virus to each other

3:13pm, August 6, 2014
Rhesus macaques (left), cynomolgus macaques (right)

CONTAINED  Rhesus macaques (left) infected with Ebola in a laboratory experiment could not pass the virus through the air to cynomolgus macaques (right).

Monkeys do not pass Ebola to one another through the air, researchers report. The result confirms observations of human outbreaks: Infection with the deadly virus requires contact with bodily fluids.

The study follows up on a 2012 report that raised concerns Ebola might be able to spread by air (SN: 12/15/12, p. 12). That study, led by infectious disease researcher Gary Kobinger of the Public Health Agency of Canada, found that macaques contracted Ebola when housed in cages near a pen containing piglets infected with Ebola. The animals never touched. The researchers said the finding meant that the virus probably floated to the monkeys’ cages as a fine airborne spray of particles shed by the pigs.

Pigs seem to give off more aerosolized viral particles than other species, says Derek Gatherer, a viral evolutionary biologist at Lancaster University in England. “If it’s going to

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