Bats may have triggered Ebola outbreak: Study

Nov 30, -0001

ISLAMABAD: The toddler in Guinea who is thought to have been the first case in the current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa may have caught the virus from bats in a hollow tree near his village.

A study, led by scientists from the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, could not prove the link because the tree in Meliandou, a village of 31 houses in the Gueckedou district, caught fire in late March causing a "rain of bats" to pour out of the free. The bats were destroyed or gone before the researchers arrived in mid-April - a bad break for the researchers, lead author Fabian Leendert said.

The fire took place shortly after Guineans were warned that the virus might come from bats. By then, at least 10 local people were dead, Times of India reported.

However, the scientists found enough residual DNA in the charred trunk and fecal DNA in nearby soil to identify the animals as Mops condylurus, longtailed insect-eating bats that were previously suspected in an outbreak of the Sudan strain of Ebola virus, which is related to the Zaire strain that has infected over 20,000 West Africans.

The study is important because scientists have wondered how a boy named Emile Ouamouno, who died in December 2013 and whom various reports describe as one or two years old, could have been the index patient. -APP

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