Can You Get Ebola From a Bowling Ball?
A. Dr. Craig Spencer, the patient with Ebola currently in isolation at Bellevue Hospital Center, went bowling in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn on Wednesday evening. According to city health officials, he had been taking his temperature twice a day since he left Guinea on Oct. 14. His temperature was normal on Wednesday evening, and he did not yet have any other symptoms, such as nausea or diarrhea. Ebola experts say the disease cannot be transmitted before the appearance of symptoms.
Although the surface of a shared bowling ball is a likely place to find germs — and some people avoid bowling for this very reason — it is extremely unlikely that Ebola could be passed that way. There is no evidence that it has been passed, as colds or flu sometimes are, by touching surfaces that someone else touched after sneezing into their hand. Ebola is normally passed through contact with blood, vomit or diarrhea.
If someone left blood, vomit or feces on a bowling ball, and the next person to touch it did not even notice, and then put his fingers into his eyes, nose or mouth, it might be possible. But, the Ebola virus does not not normally build up to high levels in saliva or mucus until very late in the disease — several days after the initial fever sets in — and it is unlikely that someone that ill would have just gone bowling. Also, the Ebola virus is fragile and susceptible to drying out. It does not normally survive for more than a few hours on a hard, dry surface.
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