The UN’s Ebola response chief is warning that the longer the virus continues to infect humans the more likely it is to mutate and become airborne.
Anthony Banbury, the Secretary General’s Special Representative, told the Telegraph that “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.”
“It is a nightmare scenario [that it could become airborne], and unlikely, but it can’t be ruled out,” Banbruy said.
Banbury admitted that the international response to the crisis, which he describes as the worse he has ever witnessed, had been late.
The Telegraph reports:
He admitted that the international community had been “a bit late” to respond to the epidemic, but that it was “not too late” and that aid workers needed to “hit [Ebola] hard” to rein in the deadly disease.
Reports of Banbury’s chilling warning come as one confirmed case and two potential cases have surfaced in the United States.
On Tuesday, the CDC confirmed that Thomas Eric Duncan, who had traveled to Dallas to visit family from Liberia had been diagnosed with the deadly virus.
The next day the director of Dallas County’s health department told WFAA that a second potential Ebola case was being monitored in a person who had close contact with Eric Duncan.
The most recent potential case of the disease is now coming out of Hawaii.
Khon2 is reporting:
The Department of Health has confirmed a patient is currently in isolation and undergoing testing in Honolulu.
The Hawaii Nurses Association said the person is being treated at The Queen’s Medical Center.
Officials told KHON2 Ebola is a possibility, however the patient has yet to be specifically tested for the virus.
“We are early in the investigation of a patient — very, very early — who we’re investigating that might have Ebola,” said Dr. Melissa Viray, deputy state epidemiologist. “It’s very possible that they do and they have Ebola. I think it’s also more likely that they have another condition that presents with similar symptoms.”
Dr. Viray wouldn’t confirm any details about the patient, symptoms, or if the person had recently traveled to West Africa. But she did say red flags for Ebola include fever and recent travel to that area.
“Why is this person being isolated?” KHON2 asked.
“What we’ve asked the hospitals to tell us about is anyone with a travel history, and anyone with a fever. And when those things come together, we’ve asked them to be very careful and in an abundance of caution while you’re working, for whatever else might be going on, also make sure you isolate against Ebola, just in case,” she said.
According to a spokeswoman with the Texas Department of State Health Services, health officials are currently reaching out to as many as 100 people who may have been in contacted with Thomas Eric Duncan.
A federal health official told CNN that the number of direct contacts that have been identified is now at “more then 12″. Those contacts will be monitors for 21 days – the amount of time it takes for Ebola symptoms to arise.
This article originally appeared on Eyes Open Report.