Originally published November 14 2014
Bleach, hand sanitizer could cause Ebola to be transmitted through skin
by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
(NaturalNews) The Ebola narrative has now come full circle with scientists from the Institute of Medicine (IoM) hinting that it might be possible for the hemorrhagic disease to transfer directly through the skin. Thomas Ksiarek from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) says viral skin penetration has not been officially dismissed as a possible mode of transmission, and that liquids like bleach and hand sanitizer could increase this transmission risk.
Speaking before a workshop at the National Academy, a panel of scientists vocalized concerns about Ebola's capacity to absorb into skin. Ksiarek, a hemorrhagic fever expert who helped co-lead a workshop session on Ebola's transmission routes, explained that science has not ruled out skin absorption as one such route. And since both hand sanitizer and bleach tend to make the skin more absorbent, the use of these products to thwart Ebola could make a person more susceptible to the disease.
"Does bleach or hand sanitizer make the skin more susceptible" to being penetrated by Ebola? This is one of the many questions "that has to be asked," in Ksiarek's opinion.
Ebola may still spread without symptoms, says infectious disease doctor The federal government still maintains that Ebola is only transmissible when an infected person starts "showing symptoms." But this dubious prerequisite is likely also a misnomer, as so-called "subclinical transmission" is still a possibility, according to Dr. Andrew Pavia, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah.
In his view, science has failed to establish a definitive threshold for when an infected person actually becomes infectious to others. It is also unknown whether the mode of transmission, and which bodily fluids are involved, makes any difference in the amount of time between initial exposure and the development of symptoms.
"[S]omeone exposed through, say, saliva rather than blood might incubate the virus for longer than the 21 days officials have repeatedly said is the outer limit of the incubation period," wrote Sharon Begley for Reuters.
Dr. C.J. Peters, a field virologist from UTMB, recognizes that incubation times for Ebola can vary dramatically. The longest ones, he says, occurred during a 1976 Ebola outbreak in which the virus was observed to transmit beyond the three-week period established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others.
"I would guess that 5 percent of people" transmit the virus after 21 days, stated Dr. Peters, who also helped mitigate the infamous Ebola outbreak that occurred in monkeys at a Virginia laboratory hospital back in 1994.
Temperature at which Ebola victims start to show symptoms also unknown Another common inaccuracy involves the temperature threshold at which an Ebola victim becomes infectious. The official number is 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees C), but according to Dr. Michael Hodgson, chief medical officer at the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), this is more of a guess than a figure backed by science.
Existing mitigatory standards for Ebola are also questionable, as scientists don't actually know whether gas, liquid or foam decontaminants work best when sanitizing surfaces that may contain residues of the virus. This is highly problematic, as Ebola can spread via indirect contact such as on surfaces containing aerosolized droplets from coughs or sneezes.
"We need a lot more information about the virology, the clinical presentation and the epidemiology of this virus," bemoaned Michael Osterhold, from the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, to Nature.
"Nobody underestimates the difficulty of doing that research in these settings, but it is really important to get this information."
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