Local experts talk about chances of Ebola becoming airborne

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Maybe you've seen the posts on social media that claim Ebola is airborne -- or could be soon.

"It takes close contact with a patient's bodily fluids," Dr. Brobson Lutz told WGNO News.  Lutz is a former city health director in New Orleans.

His biggest concern regarding the spread of the disease focuses on the protective equipment medical workers wear while treating Ebola patients.  He says the transmission of the disease to a nurse in Dallas illustrates the need for better gear.

"What is most disturbing to me is that this woman in Dallas was thrown under the bus. This was not the same garb that Doctors Without Borders is recommending for hospitals in Africa. This was a garb that was tailor-made for infectious but not fatal diseases that are common in hospitals in the United States," Lutz said.

As for the possibility of Ebola becoming airborne, Tulane Medical School's Dr. Robert Garry says it's unlikely but not impossible.  Garry is part of an effort to create a groundbreaking test for Ebola that would bring results in minutes instead of days.  Garry has been to Africa to help treat Ebola patients there.  He says the virus has already shown signs that it has mutated but not in any way that would change how it is transmitted.  Still, Garry says, medical workers need to watch the disease closely.

"So far, it hasn't made those types of changes that we would worry about the most, the ability of the virus to spread by aerosol just in the room.  So we'll have to be careful tracking that, though," Garry said.