Originally published October 30 2014
Nobel Prize winner: Ebola can be spread by people who show no symptoms
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Nearly 15 years ago, European and African scientists knew that the Ebola virus could infect a person without them knowing about it, meaning they can walk around with the virus in their system and never show any symptoms.
In 2000, The New York Times (archived here), cited the findings of a study published in a prestigious medical journal, reporting:
The possibility of asymptomatic infection was only suggested in earlier studies, they said in last week's issue of The Lancet, a medical journal published in London. Now they said they had documented such infections for the first time. They found that the Ebola virus could persist in the blood of asymptomatic infected individuals for two weeks after they were first exposed to an infected individual. How much longer the virus can persist is unknown.
The Times went on to report that the virus "usually spreads" from someone who is infected via contamination "in clinics or hospitals," generally through contact with materials contaminated with infected bodily fluids. At that time, however, based on the "new finding" at the time, "some" Ebola "cases may result from healthy carriers," though "[h]ow often is unknown."
The 13 percent
Fast-forward to the present. In the largest study of the current outbreak, scientists have further discovered that more than 1-in-10, 13 percent, of Ebola patients don't exhibit a fever or other symptoms. As reported by the Los Angeles Times:
The study, sponsored by the World Health Organization and published online late last month by the New England Journal of Medicine, analyzed data on 3,343 confirmed and 667 probable cases of Ebola.
The finding that 87.1% of those infected exhibited fever - but 12.9% did not - illustrates the challenges confronting health authorities as they struggle to contain the epidemic.
That finding has been echoed by a Nobel Prize-winning scientist, as he voiced support for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's recent (now vacated) order to quarantine anyone returning from West Africa for 21 days. As reported by NJ.com:
Dr. [Bruce] Beutler, an American medical doctor and researcher, won the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology in 2011 for his work researching the cellular subsystem of the body's overall immune system - the part of it that defends the body from infection by other organisms, like Ebola.
In voicing support for Christie's quarantine, Dr. Beutler -- current director of the Center for the Genetics of Host Defense at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas -- told the website, "I favor it," adding, "I favor it, because it's not entirely clear that they can't transmit the disease." He was referring to currently asymptomatic healthcare worker Kaci Hickox, a Doctors Without Borders nurse who recently returned to New Jersey after treating patients in Sierra Leone and was quarantined in the state for 65 hours. She was eventually taken to her home state of Maine.
'There's a lot of variation with viruses'
"It may not be absolutely true that those without symptoms can't transmit the disease, because we don't have the numbers to back that up," Dr. Beutler continued in his NJ.com interview. "It could be people develop significant viremia [where viruses enter the bloodstream and gain access to the rest of the body], and become able to transmit the disease before they have a fever, even.
"People may have said that without symptoms you can't transmit Ebola. I'm not sure about that being 100 percent true. There's a lot of variation with viruses," he added.
Despite the massive WHO study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to insist that the virus is not communicable in people without symptoms.
"There's some imperative to prevent panic among the public," Dr. Beutler said. "But to be honest, people have not examined that with transmissibility in mind. I don't completely trust people who'd say that as dogma."
Since Ebola came to the U.S., the CDC's chief, Dr. Thomas Frieden, has put out so much conflicting information that any reasonable person would conclude that's all it is: dogma.
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