Fears that Ebola could mutate into an airborne strain have recently attracted significant attention from both the scientific community and the media. Although a lot of claims could be easily be dismissed as speculative it is still interesting to examine evidence supporting the theory:

Statistics and the nature of RNA viruses which create mutations each time they replicate could result in the mutation of an airborne strain of Ebola. As the Virus spreads and replicates it has more opportunities to mutate and given the selective pressure on Ebola to survive outside the host body there is a chance that if an airborne mutation occurred it would have a very good chance of survival.

Additionally there are already several examples of airborne transmission between animals most notably, pigs. However, many of the experiments and accounts were not entirely scientific in that they were simply observations and not extensively tested. The Ebola virus in humans is traditionally transmitted via relatively large droplets of bodily fluid, which in the case of sneezing could mean through the air. However, this is entirely different from an airborne virus that can survive fully exposed with no medium to carry it. It is the difference between infections occurring in close proximity and infections being possible across far greater distances or time. It will also significantly increase the rate of infection.

It is for this exact reason that medical personnel dealing with Ebola patients protect themselves against as many forms of transmission as possible including air even if the virus is currently only transmitted through bodily fluids. By blocking as many potential transmission paths as possible, selection of an airborne strain is minimized since it would simply not find a new host. The current situation in Liberia, where patients are being turned away from hospitals, elevates risks as the virus is free to mutate as a natural response to selection pressure.

Ebola is a rapidly spreading virus and with the current rate of infection it is becoming far more difficult to keep track of the it and any potential changes. However, there is no evidence at this point that the virus has or will become airborne. That being noted, it is an unlikely possibility worthy of further investigation.