Terrorists Could Use Ebola in Dirty Bomb, Academic Warns
Terrorists could use the deadly Ebola virus to create a bomb capable of killing large numbers of people, a Cambridge University academic has warned.
Biological anthropologist Dr Peter Walsh said that although the risk of an outbreak spreading through the UK was small, groups like Al Qaeda could use it to create a weapon.
Speaking to the Sun on Sunday, Dr Walsh said that if an unwitting airline passenger were to bring to virus to the UK, it could be easily contained. He adds, however: "A bigger and more serious risk is that a group manages to harness the virus as a powder, then explodes it in a bomb in a highly populated public area. It could cause a large number of horrific deaths.
"Only a handful of labs worldwide have the Ebola virus and they are extremely well protected. So the risk is that a terrorist group seeks to obtain the virus out in West Africa.
"It is a threat that is taken very seriously."
He spoke as an outbreak of the disease continues to hit western Africa, with a total of 729 deaths from 1329 confirmed cases in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Liberia – a fatality rate of 55 percent.
Initial symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat and muscle pains, eventually leading to internal and external bleeding and organ failure.
There were fears the virus had spread to the UK after a woman collapsed and died at Gatwick Airport after getting off a flight from Sierra Leone on Saturday morning. Tests later revealed that she had not died of the disease, but the plane she travelled on was still quarantined and passengers she had come into contact with tracked down.