Scientists from the Institut Pasteur in France reported that despite a decline in Ebola cases in West Africa in the last several months, the virus may be mutating.
Concerned with higher degrees of contagion and the possibility of the virus becoming airborne, scientists are examining blood samples taken from infected patients in Guinea, according to the BBC.
Anavaj Sakuntabhai, a geneticist at the research institute, has expressed concerns over asymptomatic cases of the Ebola virus, where there may be no symptoms shown in those infected.
“These people may be the people who can spread the virus better, but we still don’t know that yet,” Sakuntabhai said. “A virus can change itself to less deadly, but more contagious and that’s something we are afraid of.”
Although there have been some asymptomatic cases in West Africa, there is no indication the virus has become airborne. For now, it can still only be spread through contact with bodily fluids expelled by an infected person.
Despite several minor mutations, the virus does not seem to have become resistant to medications.
According to the World Health Organization, over 22,000 people have been diagnosed with Ebola since the outbreak began. Nearly 8,500 of those cases have been fatal.
According to Time, the Institut Pasteur is currently attempting to develop two vaccines against Ebola, which will be tested on humans later this year.
Editor’s Note: Information from Time, the BBC, the World Health Organization and The Atlantic was used in this report.