Holy fruit bats, Batman! The source of ongoing Ebola outbreaks in Africa has been discovered. Three species of fruit bats, that are immune to the virus, have been unearthed as the cause. Fruit bats are eaten in central Africa. In 1976 an outbreak in 55 villages in the Congo killed 90% of those infected. Since then there have been 17 other documented outbreaks.
Los Angeles Times
Researchers working in Gabon and Congo have identified three species of fruit bat as the long-sought reservoirs of one of the deadliest known human pathogens, the Ebola virus.
The team tested more than 1,000 bats and other animals before tracing the virus to fruit bats, which are commonly eaten by people in Central Africa, according to a report in today's issue of the journal Nature.
Researchers found minute genetic traces of the virus in 22.6% of the bats tested. More important, they found that the virus produces no symptoms in infected bats, thus allowing it to spread without disabling its carrier, said lead researcher Eric Leroy, an immunologist with the International Center for Medical Research in Gabon.
Dr. Sanford Kuvin, head of tropical infectious diseases at Israel's Hebrew University, said the study provided strong evidence of Ebola's presence in bats and should prompt people in the region to "avoid contact with the creatures at all costs."
Don't be eating no bat stew people.
Tipped by: Boing Boing