Tags: Bats | West Africa | Ebola

Study: Bats Implicated as Source of West Africa Ebola Outbreak

By    |   Wednesday, 31 December 2014 07:54 AM

Scientists think they now know how a boy named Emile Ouamouno might have been the first medically-identified Ebola patient of the current outbreak. The toddler, who was perhaps two years old, died of the disease in December 2013, The New York Times reported.

The researchers are from the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin. Their findings appeared in the EMBO Molecular Medicine journal.

Ouamouno was infected by the virus after playing with fruit bats who made their home in a hollow tree located close to where he lived and not far from a path village women used to draw water.

The tree was burned down by the villagers of Meliandou, a hamlet in the Guéckédou district of Guinea.

By the time locals set the tree ablaze about 10 villagers had died of Ebola. The bats inside were immolated and others flew off. Consequently, scientists could not locate bats with the virus or the antibodies to it; nor could they establish a certain DNA connection to the toddler. There were, however, sufficient amounts of residual DNA to identify the bats as Mops condylurus, the Times reported.

Some Africans believe that white people started the epidemic. Villagers in Guinea used machetes and clubs to kill a dozen or so African healthcare workers assisting international medical teams, the BBC reported.

Scientists now kill any bats they examine even if they are known to be free-disease, otherwise they would be feeding into the conspiracy views of the locals, the Times reported.

The virus-carrying Mops condylurus bats are long-tailed and eat insects. This family of bats is also associated with an Ebola strain that infected thousands of people in the Sudan and Zaire.

There are many ways humans could have come into contact with the disease. "Fruit bat hunting and butchering are common activities in southern Guinea," the team reported. Peppery bat soup had been a delicacy in Guinea before the outbreak.

Scientists established that a major die‐off in non-bat wildlife did not lead to the human epidemic.

Five Ebola virus species are behind the current outbreak, scientists report.

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Scientists think they now know how a boy named Emile Ouamouno might have been the first medically-identified Ebola patient of the current outbreak.
Bats, West Africa, Ebola
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2014-54-31
Wednesday, 31 December 2014 07:54 AM
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