After a Liberian who had Ebola virus infection flew to Nigeria and died in Lagos, a British health expert has raised fear that air passengers who do not realise they have the virus could spread it around the world.

It would be recalled that the Liberian, Patrick Sawyer who was a civil servant collapsed at Muritala Muhammed Airport last Sunday after flying in from Liberia, where he had attended the funeral of his sister, who had also succumbed to the disease.

His plane also landed in Togo on its way to Lagos, prompting fears that the virus may have also reached the country.

Professor Hugh Pennington(pictured) , emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, said: ‘If the disease gets going in Nigeria it would be cause for concern.

‘Nigeria has close links with the UK and many other countries.’

Nigeria, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are now screening air passengers – but doctors say this may not be effective because Ebola has an incubation period of two to 21 days and cannot be diagnosed on the spot.

Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and damage to the nervous system. There is no vaccine or cure. It is spread by contact with infected blood or other bodily fluids.

All outbreaks since 1976 when Ebola was first identified have been in Africa, with the previous highest death toll being 280.

More than 1,000 others have been infected by the virus, which can go unnoticed for three weeks and kills 90 per cent of victims.

The outbreak started in Guinea in February and spread to neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone in weeks.

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