10/24/2014 09:02 am ET Updated Oct 24, 2014

The Answer To Your Question About Catching Ebola On The Subway


Q. Can I get Ebola from public transportation? As in, if a passenger coughed into their hand and then held onto the pole, and then another passenger held onto that pole and inadvertently wiped their eye?

A. Updated on Oct. 23. | My original answer was simply no. A more nuanced answer is that it is extremely unlikely to spread through public transit.

Many readers have argued that the original answer was inconsistent with some statements by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization. In fact, some C.D.C. and W.H.O. statements are inconsistent with each other and shifting as more questions are raised. The W.H.O. on Monday issued a new Ebola situation assessment entitled “What We Know About Transmission of the Ebola Virus Among Humans.”

Starting off my answer with a blanket “No” was wrong. But I would consider it irresponsible to have responded “Yes.” Implying that Ebola is caught as easily as flu or colds would be untrue and inflammatory.

It is extremely unlikely for the Ebola virus to spread through public transit for several reasons.

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