Knowing which types of bat carry Ebola may help health officials prevent outbreaks by educating the public about how to prevent contact with the creatures, scientists said.
For the first time, the type of deadly Ebola virus responsible for recent epidemics has been found in a bat in West Africa, Liberian health officials announced on Thursday. Bats carrying the disease had already been found in Central Africa, and scientists have long suspected that bats were a natural host of Ebola and a source of some human infections in other areas as well. But until now they had not found any bats in West Africa that harbored the epidemic species, known as Zaire ebolavirus. (Grady, 1/24)
A team of scientists working with the government of Liberia presented their findings in Monrovia, the Liberian capital. The discovery represents a major step forward in understanding where human Ebola cases come from, one of the biggest unanswered questions surrounding these outbreaks, said Jonathan Epstein, a scientist with EcoHealth Alliance, a global nonprofit that is part of the research team. No human cases of Ebola are linked to this discovery, scientists said. Liberia has reported no new human cases since the end of the 2014-2016 epidemic that devastated West Africa, killing more than 11,000 people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. (Sun, 1/24)
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