"It's the single greatest concern I've ever had in my 40-year public health career," said Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota."I can't imagine anything in my career -- and this includes HIV -- that would be more devastating to the world than a respiratory transmissible Ebola virus."
Osterholm and other experts couldn't think of another virus that has made the transition from non-airborne to airborne in humans. They say the chances are relatively small that Ebola will make thatjump. But as the virus spreads, they warned, the likelihood increases.
Comment: There is some evidence that Ebola has already become airborne. The fact is, a number of health workers and researchers who have not had any direct contact with Ebola victims, have themselves become infected.
Every time a new person gets Ebola, the virus gets another chance to mutate and develop new capabilities. Osterholm calls it "genetic roulette."
As of Friday, there have been 4,784 cases of Ebola, with 2,400 deaths, according to the World Health Organization, which says the virus is spreading at a much faster rate now than it was earlier in the outbreak.