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Author Topic: scientists says Hollow tree's likely source of Ebola epidemic  (Read 220 times)

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scientists says Hollow tree's likely source of Ebola epidemic
« on: January 07, 2015, 02:58:16 PM »

The likely origin of the current Ebola epidemic scourging West Africa is a hollow tree in south-eastern Guinea that housed a colony of bats, an international team of scientists says.

A 2-year-old boy in the Guinean village of Meliandou who is believed to have been the first Ebola death may have been infected while hunting or playing with insect-eating, free-tailed bats (Mops condylurus) that lived in the tree about 50m from his home.

The scientists reported the finding in the journal Embo Molecular Medicine. They say analyses suggest that a single animal-to-human transmission of a deadly new form of the viral disease just over a year ago was followed by rampant human-to-human transmission.

According to the latest statistics from the World Health Organization, the outbreak since December 2013 has killed some 8 000 people. Earlier strains of Ebola have been reported since 1976.

The research team, led by German wildlife epidemiologist Fabian Leendertz from the Berlin-based Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control and prevention, undertook a four-week field mission in south-eastern Guinea - near the borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone - in April 2014.

Large fruit bats that are commonly hunted for meat in the region have widely been considered to be the "natural reservoir" of the virus, but the scientists said no large colony of fruit bats existed in or nearby Meliandou.


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