"Economic consequences also result when fear and concern change behavior," David R. Kotok, the chairman and chief investment officer of Cumberland Advisors, wrote in a report late last week, addressing the potential fallout on gross domestic products. "If consumers and businesses retrench by reducing flights on airplanes, changing vacation plans or altering business connections in a globally interdependent world, G.D.P. growth rates will fall farther. We do not know how much, at what speed, or for how long."
Shares of airline stocks like United and American fell on Monday as some investors began to worry about the prospect of travel bans for airlines from West Africa to Europe and the United States.
Andrew Zarnett, an analyst at Deutsche Bank, wrote a recent report that examined the potential effects of Ebola and compared it to the economic toll of the SARS epidemic, which cost Asian airlines about $6 billion in 2003.
"History has shown us that should the Ebola epidemic spread domestically, it will have a significant impact on the airline and the entire hospitality sector," he wrote, according to FXStreet, a financial news service.
And nobody has yet fully calculated the numbers on the cost to the health care system: training, testing, treatment, waste disposal — and all the hospital beds that are sitting unused in isolation areas. (Perversely enough, many of the health care costs could conceivably help that industry in the short term because additional money is being spent.)
Read MoreEbola: A closer look at this 'frightening disease'
Of course, the greatest economic danger is in the economic isolation of countries. "By default or design, it really is an economic embargo," Kaifala Marah, finance minister of Sierra Leone, said over the weekend about his country, which has been all but cut off from the outside world.
The newest estimates about the economic cost of Ebola, conducted by John Panzer and Francisco Ferreira of the World Bank, may be the deepest look at the problem by any analyst or economist. The report notes that in the very short term, assuming that the spread of Ebola is contained, the economic costs should be low, about $359 million.