Most of the issues for liability insurance are self-evident (employees/colleagues, health care workers, funeral directors, mass transit, vets) and would be expected in EL and public liability. However there is some uncertainty regarding transmission of this disease.
The patients become contagious once they begin to show symptoms. They are not contagious during the incubation period.
Men who have recovered from the illness can still spread the virus to their partner through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery.
Anecdote from the affected region suggests that sexual intercourse once initially ill is unlikely, but this doesn’t solve the problem of sexual transmission in those who survive. Sexual activity could affect employees sent into areas where Ebola is prevalent. Explicit advice on sexual contacts while in an affected area could be viewed by the courts as a reasonable expectation. In contrast, media attention focuses on the plight of health care workers and family carers who put themselves at risk. This close attention to one particular method of transmission, and the implied heroism of innocent health care workers, could lead to neglect of sexual transmission as a serious issue.
Product liability: Live virus is found in dead people so it would be expected that it be found in meat for food should the virus be found in livestock. Should the virus be introduced into livestock the problem could expand significantly and involve product liability claims. WHO advise that the virus is found in animals in some regions.
Causation: The report does not specify the rate at which Ebola adapts and evolves. If very slowly changing the finding the actual cause of injury would be very difficult. On the other hand an infection is an indivisible event so the courts may decide that any material contribution is causative.
Around 50% of confirmed clinical cases die. It can take 3 days before the cause of illness in a clinical case is confirmed. Several sources assert that this is a zoonotic disease affecting animals for food and affecting pets.
CDC asserts that sexual transmission has never been confirmed. They also report that in survivors viral contamination has been found in breast milk, vaginal secretions and semen, but given the low levels relative to those with severe illness are suggesting these are not critical issues for concern in managing the epidemic. Time will tell.
A charity work expert has advised that funeral customs and sexual activity choices are regarded as potentially stigmatising issues. Should they be widely discussed, there is a risk that financial support might be affected.
If asymptomatic infection is found in farmed animals then the potential for spread to humans is credible. Product and product withdrawal policies may be triggered. Public authorities can readily test for Ebola in herds and flocks and in meat products.
Ebola has a specific RNA profile giving high confidence in its identification. It is feasible to write Ebola-specific insurance contracts.