Ebola caused by bats living in a hollow tree

BY NATALI IVERSON - JANUARY 6, 2015

An international team of scientists have claimed that the likely cause of the deadly Ebola epidemic could be related to a large colony of bats living in south-eastern Guinea.

Two year-old Emile Ouamouno, who is believed to be the first victim of the Ebola epidemic, may have triggered the disease after playing in a hollow tree infested with fruit bats. The tree is reportedly located 50m from Ouamouno’s home village of Meliandou in the West African country.

According to local villagers, who also had samples of them taken, a “rain of bats” flew from the trunk when the tree burned down in March 2014. The scientists have also ruled out the possibility that Ebola was contracted due to the hunting and eating of the bats, believing that Ouamouno coming into direct contact with them and their droppings had triggered the virus.

Dr Fabian Leendertz, a member of the team who visited the village, said that scientists need to find out more about the bat colony.

"They have moved into human settlements. They do not just live in the trees but also under the roofs of houses in the villages,” he said.

"The Ebola virus must jump through colonies from bat to bat, so we need to know more."

An estimated 8 153 people are reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to have died since the virus was diagnosed in December 2013.

 

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