If the deadly Ebola virus mutates to become airborne, it will create a nightmare scenario, says the chief of the U.N.’s Ebola mission.
Such circumstances could become reality if the current epidemic is not brought under control, said Anthony Banbury, the Secretary General’s Special Representative to the U.K.’s Telegraph.
“The longer it moves around in human hosts in the virulent melting pot that is West Africa, the more chances increase that it could mutate,” Mr Banbury said.
“It is a nightmare scenario [that it could become airborne], and unlikely, but it can’t be ruled out.”
If Ebola became airborne, the virus would spread quicker and easier, and also be harder to contain.
The current strain of Ebola is only transmitted via bodily fluids, such as saliva, blood, semen, and vomit. A person is not considered infectious until they are symptomatic.
Mr. Banbury was speaking just prior to U.S. authorities providing information about a Liberian national currently ill with the virus in a Dallas Texas hospital.
Authorities say the man may have come in contact with 80 people in the U.S. when he became infectious. The man arrived in the U.S. from Liberia to visit relatives on September 20.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention says symptoms of the disease may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to the virus, but the average is 8 to 10 days.
The U.S. is the only country outside of Africa that has diagnosed a case of this version of the deadly disease.
While several countries have banned or restricted flights to Ebola ravaged African countries, the U.S. has not.
The number of Ebola victims doubles every 20 to 30 days.
By January it has been projected that there could be 1.4 million people infected by the virus.