Is Ebola a Mail Security Threat?


By: Richard P. Swank – Mail Security Expert at SoBran Inc.

The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is an extremely low to no threat concern to our nation’s mail stream because of EVD’s characteristics.

EVD is of the Filoviridae family which causes severe hemorrhagic fever in humans.1 EVD is reported to have a fatality rate averaging 50%.2 Depending on the treatment regimen and conditions this percentage can be as low as 20% and as high as 90%.2 EVD originates from animals primarily in Africa.2 Fruit bats are the natural carriers of EVD and it is spread to other animals through contact with body fluids. Once humans are infected, EVD is transmitted through the direct contact of bodily fluids of someone infected and showing symptoms.1, 2, 3, 4 EVD cannot survive without a host. Once EVD is excreted from the host, its infectiousness begins to decline depending on environmental conditions.4 Generally, EVD will cease being contagious once the substance dries and (or) reaches room temperature.4

The SafeMail program detects Chemical, Biology, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive threats through x-ray, radiation, biological and chemical detection equipment. Since the transmission must be through direct fluid contact, EVD is an extremely low to no threat. In order to transmit EVD through the mail system, very specific conditions would need to be met which would raise flags in standard screening processes.4


Spickler, Anna Rovid. Ebola Virus and Marburg Virus Infections. (September 2014)

Ebola Virus Disease. World Health Organization. (September 2014)

Chapter: Hemorrhagic fevers caused by: i) Ebola virus and ii) Marburg virus and iii) other viral causes including bunya viruses, arena viruses and flavi viruses. Appendix A Disease Specific Chapters. (May 2014)

Pathogen safety data sheet. Public Health Agency of Canada.